Two weeks after one of his rallies erupted into chants of “Send Her Back!” directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and hours after making no promises to stop such racist attacks if they happened again, President Trump was able to avoid another similar moment during Thursday night’s campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio.
But he still managed to stoke racial divisions.
Minutes after taking the stage, Trump took aim at the so-called “Squad”—the group of four progressive congresswomen of color who were the target of his repeated racist attacks earlier this month.
“While Republicans are working every day to build up our country, the rage-filled Democrat Party is trying to tear America apart,” the president shouted to lusty boos. “The Democrat Party is now being led by four left-wing extremists who reject everything that we hold dear.”
The president went on rail against “inner cities,” as he claimed they have paid the ultimate price for a “far-left, destructive agenda.” Complaining that “these communities have been run exclusively by Democrat politicians,” the president teased that he was going to name names before backing off.
“We can name one after another but I won’t do that—because I do not want to be controversial,” the president quipped to laughter. “We want no controversy.”
This was, obviously, a reference not only to the Omar chants from two weeks ago but also to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). The president has spent nearly the past week lobbing attacks at both Cummings and the congressman’s home district of Baltimore, which he has described as a place “no human being would want to live.”
While in the midst of describing majority-black areas as violent hellholes brought on by Democratic policies, the rally was interrupted by a protester in the crowd who held up an “Immigrants Built America” sign.
As he waited for security to escort the protester out of the arena, Trump impatiently walked the stage. Eventually, he turned to the crowd and asked if Cincinnati had a “Democrat mayor”—apparently implying that the city’s leadership was responsible for the protest.
“Come on, law enforcement,” he called out. “Democrat mayor! Democrat mayor!”
Following the interruption, the president then fully took aim at Baltimore—even inviting his supporters to join in.
“The homicide rate in Baltimore is significantly higher than El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala,” Trump bellowed before motioning to the crowd. “I believe it is higher than … give me a place that you think is pretty bad?”
After a member of the crowd shouted Afghanistan, Trump said he “believed” Baltimore was more violent than the war-torn Middle East country but that he’ll “check the numbers” later.
“I do believe the rate is higher than Afghanistan,” Trump repeated.
The president, meanwhile, wasn’t the only speaker to blast Baltimore. Serving as a warm-up act for his father, Donald Trump Jr. parroted his dad’s attacks on Cummings and the city, asking the crowd if there was “one measurement” to show that Baltimore has been a “brilliant success story.”
“I’m waiting—not one. It doesn’t exist,” he said.