Donald Trump is pinning the blame for escalating violence and protests at his campaign events on Bernie Sanders.
The Republican presidential front-runner said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that he “should get credit, not be scorned” for his handling of the tension at his events.
“You had professional disruptors, thousands of them, from Sanders and to a smaller extent, Hillary (Clinton),” he said of a Friday night event in Chicago that Trump canceled after chaos broke out there.
Trump was deflecting blame after a weekend of eruptions on the campaign trail. On Friday, his campaign canceled his appearance at an event in Chicago amid security concerns. On Saturday, a man rushed the stage during one of his speeches, and Trump closed out the day by calling for the arrest of protesters at his events.
Trump said of conservatives: “We are treated so unfairly, and I’m treated very unfairly.”
He fired a warning shot at Sanders, suggesting that his supporters could disrupt the Vermont senator and Democratic hopeful’s events after some of the Chicago protesters brought pro-Sanders signs.
“If conservative Republicans ever went into his rally, you would see things happen that would be unbelievable,” Trump said, even as he denied that a tweet he’d posted Sunday morning saying that Sanders should “be careful” was a threat.
And he bragged that “we’ve had no injuries at my events with thousands of people.”
His comments come a week after a 78-year-old Trump supporter was arrested after video showed he sucker-punched a protester who was being escorted from a Trump event in North Carolina. (On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump on Sunday told moderator Chuck Todd that he’s “instructed my people to look into” whether he could pay the man’s legal bills.)
Breitbart journalist Michelle Fields, meanwhile, accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her after a campaign event. Fields tweeted photos of her bruises and filed a criminal complaint alleging she’d been assaulted.
Sanders, in an interview with Tapper on “State of the Union,” said his campaign “had nothing to do” with what happened in Chicago. He also called on his supporters to allow Trump’s events to go forward.
“I would hope that my supporters would not disrupt meetings. To protest is one thing, to disrupt is something else,” he said.
Still, Sanders said Trump carries the blame for the escalating tensions at his events.
“Even his Republican colleagues make this point: His language, his intonation, when he talks about carrying people out in stretchers … this is a man who keeps implying violence, and then you end up getting what you seek,” he said.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also criticized Trump on “State of the Union.”
“He has turned the most important election in a generation into a circus, into a complete fiasco and a carnival,” he said.
Rubio suggested he’s considering backing off his pledge to support the Republican nominee if Trump wins the nomination.
“It’s getting harder every day to justify that statement to myself, to my children, to my family, and to the people that support me,” Rubio said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on “State of the Union” that he, too, is tired of seeing Trump’s comments designed to make people “depressed and down and angry.”
“When I saw the violence in Chicago, I just had enough,” Kasich said.