Less than 24 hours after a largely white crowd at a Trump campaign rally chanted “send her back!” about a Somali-born U.S. congresswoman, President Trump back tracked on his previous statements and tweets and disavowed the message of the chant Thursday, telling reporters “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it.” Trump tried to put distance between his supporters’ chant directed at Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and his own role in provoking it. “I didn’t say that,” he said. “They did.”
A reporter asked why Trump didn’t take action to stop the chant. Trump, sitting in the Oval Office, responded:
Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. I disagree with it, by the way. But it was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it. But I will say this—and I did—I started speaking very quickly. But it started up rather fast, as you probably noticed.
During the speech, Trump went on a several minute diatribe about Omar, a first-term congresswoman from Minnesota, who has been highly critical of Trump policy and American apathy on a number of issues, particularly immigration. When the crowd began chanting “send her back” during one of the pauses in the Trump’s remarks, the president luxuriated for a full 13 seconds letting the chant grow and ring out across the arena before resuming his speech.