In the aftermath of the violence that cancelled GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s Chicago rally, Trump returns to the campaign trail Saturday in the Midwest.
Trump has events Saturday in the Dayton, Ohio area, then in Cleveland. The Trump campaign has denied rumors about cancelling an event later today in Cincinnati, saying they did not have an event scheduled there.
Fox News reported that the violence at Trump’s event at the University of Chicago arena appeared to break out after Trump cancelled his appearance, amid angry protests inside and outside the venue. Five people reportedly were arrested.
While Rubio pressed Trump to condemn the violence, he also acknowledged that Trump is being denied his free-speech rights and that some of the Chicago protesters could have been paid.
“This is frightening,” candidate and Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said at a morning press conference. “Leadership has never been about taking people’s anger and getting then to vote for him.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has the second most delegates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, on Friday accused the front-runner of inciting the restlessness that was seen inside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion.
“Thirty people were arrested today over violence and then the rally was cancelled, protesters took violence into their own hands …any campaign that disrespects the voters and a campaign that encourages violence and facing allegations against members of the press you create an environment that encourages this,” Cruz said.
Cruz was speaking to reporters at a Republican dinner in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and warned that violence at these rallies weren’t going to stop.
“The candidate urges violence to punch people in the face. This is not going to be the last incident…this is not how our politics should occur.”
Rubio on Friday pointed out to reporters that there isn’t violence at his campaign rallies nor are there any incidents for Cruz, Kasich and Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“There is only one candidate that has violence at his events. I think potentially some of the rhetoric he has used contributed to this environment and it’s disturbing,” Rubio added.
Kasich piled onto the criticism of Trump’s rallies, saying in a statement that the “seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign finally bore fruit, and it was ugly.”
He then encouraged Americans to unite and not to fall for those who “try to divide us for personal gain.”
“I urge people to resist that temptation and rise to a higher level,” Kasich added.
Trump defended his decision to cancel his rally Friday, saying he didn’t want to see “people get hurt” after protesters packed into the arena where it was scheduled to take place. Rally-goers and protesters squared off in isolated confrontations creating a chaotic environment.
Speaking later with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Trump said he had arrived in Chicago two hours earlier and about 25,000 people were trying to enter the area.
‘We stopped Trump!’ Protesters declare victory (Video)
After meeting with law enforcement authorities, he said, “I didn’t want to see people get hurt (so) I decided to postpone the rally…
“What we did was intelligent, a very good decision,” Trump said.
He also said, “if we had the rally, I think it would not have been a good situation.” But, he added, “Our First Amendment rights have been violated.”
Trump returned to the First Amendment issue in a later conversation with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I have the right to speak and they (his supporters) have a right to listen,” he said.
He also added that he was “getting a lot of credit for canceling…we did the right thing.”
Hours earlier, Trump supporters and opponents stood calmly in a line together waiting to get inside. Police horses and barricades kept the bulk of the demonstrators across the street. Trump opponents were protesting what they called his divisive comments, particularly about Muslims and Mexicans. Dozens of UIC faculty and staff had petitioned university administrators to cancel the rally, citing concerns it would create a “hostile and physically dangerous environment.”
Tensions outside rose only after news of the cancellation spread
At one point, nearly 20 officers who had been manning barricades suddenly bolted for an intersection across a street bridge over a freeway — where protesters shouted at and jostled with police already there. An officer was seen walking from that intersection with blood on his head. A police spokesman said later that he couldn’t provide details.