(CBS News) Less than 24 hours after attempting to disavow supporters who chanted “send her back” at his Greenville, North Carolina rally this week, President Trump reversed course and took their side. “As you know, those are incredible people…those are incredible patriots,” the president said Friday.
The chant was widely seen as a racist attack on Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is originally from Somalia but is now an American citizen. After first lady Melania Trump, the president’s daughter Ivanka, and several republican lawmakers expressed their concerns about the ugly scene, the president offered a tepid rebuke.
“I disagree with it, by the way,” Mr. Trump said. “But it was quite a chant and I felt a little bit badly about it.”
But less than a day later, he was back to blaming Omar. “You know what I’m unhappy with? I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”
The president seems to see political advantage in his feud with the four democratic congresswomen known as “The Squad” — especially Omar, who has been particularly outspoken.
Omar was defiant when she returned to Minnesota on Thursday, saying that as an immigrant in Congress, she’s the president’s “nightmare.”
“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us!” Omar said. “We are not deterred. We are not frightened. We are ready!”
That comment appeared to have gotten under the president’s skin.
“I’m unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says, ‘I’m gonna be the president’s nightmare,'” Mr. Trump said. “She’s gonna be the president’s nightmare. She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you.”
The president continues to argue that it’s not OK for these congresswomen to criticize the country or his policies. When asked why it was OK for him to repeatedly call the U.S. “a laughingstock” or its foreign policy “stupid” before he was elected, Mr. Trump responded by saying, “This is the best country in the world.”