Donald Trump has attempted to distance himself from the “send her back” chants aimed at Somali-born congresswoman Ilhan Omar during an election rally.
The president has been engaged in an escalating war of words with Ms. Omar and three of her Democrat colleagues in recent days, having kicked off the racism row when he told them they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.
He dedicated 20 minutes of a lengthy speech in North Carolina on Wednesday evening to criticizing group known as “The Squad”, which eventually led to his frenzied audience chanting “send her back” in reference to Ms. Omar.
Mr Trump has since said he “was not happy” about what the crowd had to say, despite having invited the congresswoman and other fierce critics of his to leave the country just a few days ago.
He told reporters at the White House: “I felt a little bit bad about it. I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. But again, I didn’t say that. They did. And I disagreed with it.”
Boos continued to ring out as the Republican spoke about Ms. Omar and her colleagues, who are fierce critics of his immigration policies and rhetoric.
The president told his supporters they were “helping to fuel the rise of a dangerous, militant hard left” and has also referred to them as the “four horsewomen of the apocalypse”.
Ms Omar, who is one of only two Muslim women in Congress, tweeted a quote from Maya Angelou, the American poet, singer and civil rights activist, following the rally.
It said: “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Ms. Omar has received support from across the world, with #IStandWithIlhan trending on Twitter.
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris said the rally “defiles the office of the president”, and Jon Favreau, who served in the Obama administration, said it was “one of the most chilling and horrifying things I’ve ever seen in politics”.
In the UK, London mayor Sadiq Khan – himself a frequent target for Mr. Trump – said the four congresswomen “represent hope for the future”.
Mr. Trump has defended his comments about the congresswomen, tweeting that “I don’t have a racist bone in my body”, but the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to brand his original tweets as “racist comments”.
However, it rejected an effort by one Democrat to impeach the president due to opposition from party leaders.
Source: SKY NEWS