Donald Trump has finally conceded Friday that his supporters were “vicious, violent, nasty and mean” during the presidential campaign. But he insists they’ve turned “mellow” now that he’s the president-elect.
Trump’s praise for his more laid-back supporters was a marked departure from his earlier calls for violence at campaign rallies, including urging followers in Iowa to “knock the crap” out of protesters and offering to cover legal fees for assaults. And his fans chanted their approval of Trump’s vow to imprison his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, though he’s since admitted he only made the threat to win votes.
His crowds could get ugly, Trump conceded Friday in a speech before some 11,000 fans in Orlando, Florida, that’s part of his “thank you” tour.
“You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean you are going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right?” said Trump, speaking from an outdoor stage at the Florida fairgrounds.
“But now, you’re mellow and you’re cool and you’re not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right? Now you’re sort of laying back ... you’re basking in the glory of victory.”
However, his Florida fans weren’t all that mellow during his speech. They broke out twice into renewed chants of “lock her up, lock her up.” That prompted Trump to smile and say, “Oh, that’s so terrible.”
One supporter shouted that Clinton should be “waterboarded” and threw an empty water bottle at a reporter, calling him trash, CNN reported. During his address, Trump had called the media “dishonest,” pointing to reporters at the rally, and calling them “these very dishonest people here.” “They’ve written very dishonestly about all of us,” he added.
Trump’s remarks were the first time he has conceded that his followers have been violent. During the campaign, he blamed the several fights at his rallies on Democratic activists who were paid to stage them.
The Florida comments were viewed as an oblique attempt to address the spike in hate crimes. since his victory. His rhetoric, including pledges to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, ramp up deportations, create a Muslim registry and enact a ban on certain people entering America have been linked to the rise.
Unlike Trump’s perspective on the current climate, the Southern Poverty Law Center tallied the increase and found that his victory did not defuse violence and threats ― and it likely did help unleash the surge.
In other comments, Trump called again for action against protesters who burn the flag, which is speech under the First Amendment.
“I don’t like when I see people burning our flag,” he said. “I don’t like it and we’re going to try doing something about it.”
Trump also lamented — again — that Time magazine named him Person of the Year instead of man of the year.
And he called for national unity.
“Whether you are African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, whatever the hell you might be, we are all Americans and we are all united by one shared destiny,” he said.