Asked about a man who was arrested for assault after allegedly sucker-punching a black protester at a North Carolina campaign rally, Donald Trump replied that some of his supporters have “anger that’s unbelievable.”
“They love this country,” the candidate said during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. “They don’t like seeing bad trade deals, higher taxes, they don’t like seeing a loss of their jobs where our jobs have just been devastated. And I know—I mean, I see it. There is some anger. There’s also great love for the country. It’s a beautiful thing in many respects. But I certainly do not condone that at all.”
John McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and battery Thursday for allegedly punching Rakeem Jones in the head at a Fayetteville rally. In a video interview conducted during the rally, McGraw told Inside Edition he “might have to kill” Jones if he sees him again.
CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper pressed Trump to reckon with his role in facilitating a hostile environment for demonstrators at his events. As Tapper noted, the GOP candidate previously expressed a desire to punch a protester in the face and promised to “pay the legal fees” for supporters who roughed up dissenters.
“We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things,” Trump said. “They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and start hitting people. We had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing serious damage.”
He then pivoted to the “phenomenal job” police do in controlling the crowds at his rallies and said they deserve respect.