September 26, 2021

Campaign event chaos follows Trump from Chicago to Ohio

Trump's Ohio rally goes on after canceled rally in ChicagoRepublican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday encounter more violence on the campaign trail when somebody apparently got too close to the front-runner at an Ohio rally and the Secret Service stepped on stage, one day after violence forced Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago.

The large, boisterous rally at an airport outside Dayton, Ohio, was briefly interrupted as the stage was cleared.

Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday by ignoring calls for him to take responsibility for the violence that cancelled a Chicago rally and instead blamed left wing rivals and “wiseguys” for the “planned” and “professionally-staged” protests.

‘My people are nice. My people are great,” Trump told an boisterous, overflow crowd at airport outside Dayton, Ohio. “Don’t let them rip you away from your position. These are bad people. These are people who don’t want to make American great again.”

Trump’s GOP rivals on this week attempted to hold Trump responsible for the campaign chaos, as the try to stop him from winning the GOP nomination.

“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.”

Rubio also suggested he’s now unsure whether he could support Trump if he becomes the party nominee.

Rubio, along with fellow rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have been trying to stop Trump’s march to the GOP nomination, ahead of essentially make-or-break primaries Tuesday in Florida and Ohio.

Kasich said Saturday that Trump is “creating a toxic environment.”

“I hope he’ll knock this off and stop trying to divide us,” he also said.

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 such an event was never on the schedule.

The violence at Trump’s event at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion 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.

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 arean.

“Any campaign that disrespects the voters and a campaign that encourages violence … 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,” he said. “This is not how our politics should occur.”

Rubio on Friday argued that such violence does not occur at his rallies nor at those for Cruz, Kasich and Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump said Friday 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.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.