DAYTON, Ohio — Donald Trump on Saturday denounced the protests that led him to cancel a scheduled rally the previous night in Chicago, calling them “a planned attack” that was “professionally done.”
During the event in Dayton, Ohio, a man tried to rush the stage as Secret Service officers covered the GOP front-runner, who was unharmed.
Clashes broke out Friday night between protesters and Trump supporters after the campaign announced the rally would be canceled more than 30 minutes after it was scheduled to start. Hundreds of protesters had packed into the University of Illinois at Chicago venue for the rally, prompting the campaign to call off the event.
The protests and fights in Chicago were just the latest in a string of increasingly heated and at-times violent confrontations breaking out at rallies for the front-runner in the Republican presidential race. And they come as Trump has repeatedly suggested protesters should face more violent repercussions for disrupting his rallies.
“We’re all together and we want to get along with everybody, but when they have organized, professionally staged wise guys we’ve got to fight back, we’ve got to fight back,” Trump said Saturday in his first rally since the canceled Chicago event.
As he did the previous night in a round of phoned in TV interviews, Trump didn’t walk back any of his rhetoric Saturday. He again claimed that neither the tone of his campaign nor his supporters were to blame for any violence at his rallies.
“They want me to tell my people please be nice be nice. My people are nice,” Trump said Saturday.
“They were taunted, they were harassed by these other people.”
Early Saturday afternoon, Trump’s campaign issued a statement on the Chicago rally, saying that Chicago police, as well as Secret Service and private security firms, “were consulted and totally involved” in the decision to cancel the event.
“We have received great credit from everyone for canceling this event. Nobody was injured and crowds disbanded quickly and peacefully. It has been termed ‘really good management and leadership under great pressure!'” the statement read. “It would have been easier for Mr. Trump to have spoken, but he decided, in the interest of everyone’s safety, to postpone the event.”
Man tries to rush stage
While Trump was speaking, a man tried to jump a barrier behind the stage in an apparent effort to confront the GOP front-runner, but was unsuccessful. He was quickly blocked by Secret Service officers, and members of Trump’s security detail rushed to cover him. After a few moments, Trump, who was visibly startled, gave a thumbs-up and thanked the cheering crowd for warning him.
“I was ready for him,” Trump said, “but it’s much easier if the cops do it.”
The Secret Service had no immediate comment on the incident, but law enforcement sources told CNN the man will be charged with disorderly conduct.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued a brief statement on the incident.
“A man attempted to breach the secure buffer and was removed rapidly and professionally,” she said. “All further inquiries should be directed to the (Secret Service).”