Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday refused to take the blame for repeated incidents of violence at his campaign rallies, saying his supporters are justifiably angry and he can't stop them from assaulting each other.
"I have no control over the people," Trump said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Wolf, these people have been disenfranchised, they lost their jobs, they make less money now than they made 12 years ago."
Trump added, "I don't know that I can calm them down. I can certainly try, but they're very angry people. They've been misled by politicians for years, and they're tired of it, and that's why I'm doing so well, and that's why I'm leading."
While the other four presidential candidates have held violence-free political rallies, Trump's campaign events seem to attract a more aggressive kind of supporter. At two of his rallies this month, supporters sucker-punched and kicked protesters. At a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, a group of white Trump fans surrounded a black woman, who said they shoved her, followed her and called her a "nigger and a cunt."
Trump's own campaign staffers also have been accused of violence at his events. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was caught on video at a Tucson, Arizona, rally, grabbing a protester by the collar. Former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields accused Lewandowski of grabbing her arm so hard he left a bruise.
While Trump on Monday said he condemns violence at his rallies, his rhetoric has encouraged it. “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?" Trump told supporters in Iowa last month. "Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
Politicians in both parties have condemned Trump's behavior.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton on Monday night called him a "bully."
"I think his incitement of violence, his constant urging on of his supporters in large numbers to go after protesters, his saying, 'I wanna punch people in the face' and telling somebody who did punch somebody, 'I will pay your legal bills' -- I think that raises very serious questions," Clinton told CNN.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has admonished Trump for warning that there may be riots at the Republican National Convention if he's not the nominee. "Nobody should say such things, in my opinion, because to even address or hint at violence is unacceptable," Ryan said.
Trump on Monday scoffed at Ryan's suggestion.
"If they happen I'll have no part in it, but there could very well be riots," Trump said. "And you know that's true. I mean, are we supposed to be so politically correct?"
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.