WASHINGTON (WNCN/AP) – President Donald Trump again commented Friday on the crowds that attended his rally in Greenville on Wednesday – calling the attendees “great people” and “great patriots.”
Trump’s comments came as Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin visited the White House to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.
Trump’s Greenville rally sparked controversy after the crowd chanted “Send her back!” when he questioned the loyalty of a Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota).
The crowd’s “send her back” shouts resounded for 13 seconds as Trump made no attempt to interrupt them. He paused in his speech and surveyed the scene, taking in the uproar.
Trump has since disavowed the chant to which Omar called the president a fascist.
“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred. We are not frightened,” Omar said.
On Friday, Trump called the crowd at Minges Coliseum on the East Carolina University campus a record.
“Those people in North Carolina – that stadium was packed. It was a record crowd. And I could have filled it 10-times, as you know,” Trump said. “Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots.”
The president then referenced Omar’s comment about being his nightmare.
“She’s lucky to be where she is,” he said. “The things she has said are a disgrace to our country.”
Trump started the week’s tumult by tweeting Sunday that Omar and three other freshmen congresswomen could “go back” to their native countries if they were unhappy here. His other targets — all Trump detractors — were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
All are American citizens, and all but Omar was born in the U.S. She fled to America as a child with her family from violence-wracked Somalia.
The president did not back down from that criticism on Thursday.
They have “a big obligation and the obligation is to love your country,” he said. “There’s such hatred. They have such hatred.”
The chants at the Trump rally brought scathing criticism from GOP lawmakers as well as from Democrats, though the Republicans did not fault Trump himself.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California declared that the chant has “no place in our party and no place in this country.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted that it was “ugly, wrong, & would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or we risk our great union.”
Citing Trump’s rhetoric, House Democrats said they were discussing arranging security for Omar and the three other congresswomen.
In North Carolina, Trump berated each of the four congresswomen and said: “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ’em leave, let ’em leave.'” He added, “I think in some cases they hate our country.”
ECU office of chancellor Dan Gerlach released a statement:
We have received a great deal of feedback since the Trump Campaign visit on Wednesday (July 17). As you know and was stated several times, East Carolina University did not sponsor, host or endorse the event. As a public university, however, we must follow federal, state and UNC System guidelines regarding free speech. The Trump Campaign rented Minges Coliseum, which is available to any for-profit or non-profit group. With this event and with any event on our campus, the University does not control, and is not responsible for, the content of speech.
East Carolina University attracts students, faculty and staff from all over the region, state, nation and world. For decades, people with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences have been proud to call themselves Pirates. A diverse campus allows us to pursue excellence in many ways and fields, to communicate effectively with a broad variety of audiences, and – according to our alumni – to be well prepared for the world after graduation.
ECU is indeed a welcoming and accepting campus that provides students, faculty and staff the opportunity and space to share their thoughts and views. We strive to create an environment where individuals feel wanted, welcomed, appreciated and valued, understanding that there will be times we disagree. That challenge, and sometimes conflict, builds resiliency and sharpens the intellect. That’s the beauty of living, learning and working at a great institution of higher education.
We encourage and welcome civil discourse on our campus. The U.S. Constitution allows the intellectual and individual freedom of expression that enables us to live our mission. These freedoms do not protect the right to hear and listen to only what is convenient and agreeable but do protect the right to be able to respond and express one’s own views. We will facilitate such conversations on the campus in the fall.
Across our campus, we strive to live out our ECU Creed (included below) and work toward a community that cherishes our diversity as a strength and value in our community and nation.
The ECU Creed
In the pursuit of educational excellence, responsible stewardship, and intellectual freedom, the community of scholars at East Carolina University is committed to learning at the highest level. Founded in the tradition of service and leadership, members of our academic society exemplify high standards of professional and personal conduct at all times. Therefore, we aspire to the following:
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