During his 2020 campaign rally Wednesday night in North Carolina, President Trump, predictably, could not let his animosity toward four congresswomen of color go, inciting the crowd of supporters to erupt in racist chants that the President did nothing to quell.
Throughout his speech, he piled on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) most viciously — Trump foreshadowed he would do so in a tweet the morning before the rally — accusing her of supporting Al-Qaeda, scorning Jewish people and hating America.
“Some people did something, I don’t think so,” he said, a remark that was met with uproarious “boos” from the crowd. Trump was referencing a recent spout of ring-wing attacks on Omar when it misconstrued comments she made during a speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. As he listed other out-of-context perceived offenses by Omar, the crowd continued its expression of discontent before erupting into chants of “Send her back!”
Trump paused, giving the chant a few moments to escalate, as he subtly smirked.
Trump fans eventually break out in "send her back!" chants directed toward Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who serves in Congress who Trump viciously smeared. pic.twitter.com/LX3eAEkfci
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 17, 2019
He later repeated a version of his own “go back” refrain, suggesting to the “hate-filled extremists” — presumably Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whom he just called “Cortez” because the full name “takes too much time”), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressey (D-MA) — to “leave.”
“Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, hey, if they don’t like it, let them leave. Let them leave.”
TRUMP: "Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say 'hey, if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave. Let them leave!'" pic.twitter.com/NGzDK9pXGR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 18, 2019
Omar responded to Trump’s latest racist remarks with a quote from the Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise.”
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
-Maya Angelou https://t.co/46jcXSXF0B
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
While the racist chants from Trump supporters could be perceived as a mere natural escalation of the President’s racist rhetoric this week, the crowd’s reaction could be more calculated, according to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.
During an interview with CNN on Thursday morning, Haberman said “stoking racial tensions” has become an official “strategy” for 2020. Some of Trump’s most inflammatory remarks at the rally were included on his teleprompter speech, CNN noted. According to Haberman, the Trump campaign has decided that “stoking racial tension is going to be more effective than talking about the economy.”
The “new strategy” developed as the campaign assessed the public reaction to Trump’s initial racist tweet over the weekend, she said.
Haberman says "stoking racial tensions" is now new Trump 2020 strategy pic.twitter.com/eb75yDsjIz
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 18, 2019