Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” after an extensive questioning from host Jake Tapper on the recent protests and violence at his rallies, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he was not encouraging violence and accused CNN of misreporting.
Partial transcript as follows:
TAPPER: Now, protests on the campaign trail are obviously nothing new. I have seen one in every previous election I have covered, but in every one I have seen before the leader on the stage tries to lower the temperature, not raise it. Do you ever consider whether you should be trying to lower the temperature when these protests erupt?
TRUMP: I think in many cases I do lower the temperature. I tell the police, please take it easy when people are punching the police and trying to hurt people. When I say things like I’d like to punch him, frankly, this was a person that was absolutely violent and was like a crazed individual. A lot of them are — you know, I don’t even call them protesters. I call them disrupters. A lot of them come from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), whether he wants to say it or not, and if he says no, then he’s lying. Bernie Sanders, they have Sanders signs all over the place and they’re made by the same people that make the regular Bernie sanders signs. They’re professionally made. And we have great rallies. We have by far the biggest rallies. We have 25,000, 30,000 people at rallies and out of that you’ve had very little problem. What I did with Chicago and I could have gone — it would have been easier to go and make the speech and you would have had a clash because you had professional disrupters, thousands of them, from Sanders and to a smaller extent Hillary. Hillary doesn’t have very much fervor, I will say that and so people don’t care that much. But you have Sanders disrupters going over there. You had Ayers there. You had a lot of people there that I don’t think is so good to be there. And I’ll tell you what, I think what I did — I have gotten a lot of credit for it. Not from CNN. I watched John King this morning. That was an entire kill job the entire show. It was amazed at that show. It was a total kill. But I’ll tell you what, I have gotten other credits from other networks, not from CNN. I have gotten a lot of credit from the fact that I canceled and postponed the other day in Chicago because, frankly, if I went up, we would have had — my supporters have tremendous love of this country. They’re tired of our country being ripped off by everybody, and I will tell you you would have had a tremendous clash and a lot of people would have gotten hurt or worse, and by canceling it, everybody dispersed beautifully. The police did a great job. The secret service was fantastic, and there was no injuries, no nothing. So I should get credit, not be scorned on your program by John King all morning long.TAPPER: Okay. well, that’s not my program. but in any case this morning, sir, you tweeted Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disrupters aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful, Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours. That sounds like a threat. It doesn’t sound like lowering the temperature. It sounds like –perhaps making things even worse.
TRUMP: No, it’s not a threat. it’s not a threat…it’s not a threat at all. Look, my people have said, we ought to go to his rallies because, you know, it’s sort of interesting, when liberals and super liberals — and I don’t even call them liberals because I have many friends that are liberal and I think they’re wonderful people — These are beyond liberal. These people are bad people that are looking to do harm to our country. But when these people come into mine, you know, everybody thinks I’m a bad guy. when — if my people went into one of his rallies, they’d say, oh, this is a terrible thing, they would be arrested and all sorts of things would happen to them. If conservative Republicans ever went into his rally, you would see things happen that would be unbelievable, and Bernie would be, oh, poor, Bernie, isn’t that a shame. There is a horrible thing going on in the media. we are treated so unfairly, and I’m treated very unfairly. I mean, you know, this morning you had your political consultants say I had 5,000 people in Dayton, Ohio. Well, I had far more than 5,000 people. We had a hangar that was filled with people. It had to be 10,000 or 15,000 people.
TAPPER: I guess, Mr. Trump, the point is that people are getting hurt and people are actually concerned that somebody might get seriously, seriously injured before this is all over, and that you are not taking down the temperature. You are in the views of many of your fellow Republicans making things worse, inciting, encouraging violence, and you’re a leader, sir.
TRUMP: My fellow Republicans — excuse me, excuse me — my fellow Republicans are running against me. They are losing big league. In Florida we have a man,
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 79%, who doesn’t even show up to vote in the U.S. Senate. He’s a disgrace. He’s weak, very weak on illegal immigration, wants to give amnesty to everybody. He’s a person that I don’t think he could be elected dog catcher in Florida, frankly, but I’m running against.TAPPER: With all due respect, sir.
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. If you look at Ohio, with he have a man that voted for NAFTA, NAFTA has destroyed Ohio and now he’s voting for TPP. I mean in Kasich, give me a break. They’re running against me, so obviously if I were in their position, I’d be saying the same thing. We have rallies of 25,000, 30,000 people and you haven’t even said anything about danger in our rallies until Friday, and the danger was ended by a very good managerial decision not to have that particular rally, to postpone…how many people — Jake, you made a statement — Jake, could I ask you — you made a statement that at my rallies people are — it’s dangerous. Other than for the other day with Chicago and the one man that rushed the stage and secret service did a very good job, but other than that, with thousands of people, 21,000, 35,000 people a few weeks ago in Alabama, how many people have been injured at my rallies? Zero. Zero. There’s been nobody injured.
TAPPER: I don’t think it’s zero.
TRUMP: You make it like everybody is being broken down and injured because CNN reports very, very unfairly about me. I’ll tell you what, so out of all of these rallies with thousands and thousands of people and nobody is even close — by the way, Bernie gets peanuts compared to what we get and I say we because it’s me — I’m just a messenger because there is a lot of anger in this country and it’s anger at incompetence. It’s anger at the border. It’s anger at trade deals that are so bad for us and all our jobs are being taken out of the country. There is a lot of anger. I didn’t need to do this. I have a wonderful life. I have a great, great company. I didn’t need to do this. I wanted to do it because somebody has to do it, our country is in trouble
TAPPER: I would just ask…I hear you, sir. I hear you, sir, about the causes of the anger. I would just ask as a fellow American if you could consider whether or not dialing down the temperature, trying to bring down the temperature might be a healthier thing both for your campaign and for the nation at large. But that’s all the time we have.
TRUMP: Well, if you would report it right. You should report it right because we have had no injuries at my events with thousands of people. You just don’t report it that way so, you know, do what you have to do.
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