"I'm a peace-loving person": Donald Trump again deflects blame for rally violence

Criticized for inciting violence at his rallies, Trump does half-hearted damage repair, calls rallies "love-fests"

Published March 14, 2016 3:52PM (EDT)

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump held a rally Monday at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.

Trump appeared alongside New Jersey Gov Chris Christie, who, according to NJ.com, skipped out on the funeral of State Trooper Sean Cullen, 31, who was killed in the line of duty last week after being struck by a passing motorist while responding to a car fire on a New Jersey highway. Cullen's funeral, scheduled for noon on Monday, corresponded almost perfectly with the start-time of Trump's rally.

Trump's signature off-the-cuff stumping experienced a handful of interruptions: one earlier on was more prolonged but almost immediately drowned out by "U-S-A" chants, which Trump briefly joined in on; others later on were briefer and less disruptive.

"Let him go," Trump mocked a lone protester. "He'll go back home to mom and she'll be angry at him."

Trump generalized protesters at his rallies as "kids" who "don't know where they're coming from."

"And they've got a Bernie sign — Bernie's going nowhere, you know that," Trump added, prompting boos at the mere mention of Sanders. "It's a little disruption, but there's no violence. There's none whatsoever."

"You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies?" he asked, rhetorically. "I think, like, basically none. Other than I guess maybe somebody got hit once."

Trump contrasted the "love-fest" atmosphere at his rallies to Marco Rubio's, where, he alleged, a protester interrupted and "they ripped him down." As Trump noted, the video exists — but it proves him entirely wrong.

"If I ever did that, I'd be on the front page of every newspaper in the world," he said. "I don't do that; I'm a peace-loving person."

Trump made relatively brief mention of Friday's rally in Chicago, which he said he cancelled "because I didn't want to see it."

"They've given me a lot of credit," he boasted. "Rather than having the rally and having people fighting ... I did something that was a good move, a good decision because I don't want to see anybody be hurt. And we've been given so much credit for that -- nobody hurt, no problem, it went away."


By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Bernie Sanders Chris Christie Donald Trump Elections 2016 Hickory Lenoir-rhye University North Carolina