Politics

Donald Trump Basically Dodged a Question About Violence at His Rallies

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump offered a vague explanation for the violence that has characterized many of his rallies at Thursday night's GOP debate. After calling his protesters "bad dudes," Trump used the question about his handling of physical outbursts to laud police in the United States.

While many were glad that CNN moderator and journalist Jake Tapper, asked the initial question, Tapper did not press harder on Trump.

Trump was asked if he encouraged a culture of violence against protestors at his rallies by Tapper. The businessman responded, saying that he hoped not, and that his supporters were angry patriots.

"They have anger that’s unbelievable. They love this country," Trump said of his supporters.

But whether or not he encouraged violence against protesters, whom he described as "bad dudes," Trump said, "I hope not, I truly hope not."

"I haven’t seen (it)," he continued. "I heard about it, which I don’t like."

Tapper quoted phrases uttered by the divisive frontrunner about protesters at rallies, including the time he said, "I'd like to punch him in the face" at a Las Vegas rally; "In the good old days, they would've ripped him out of that seat so fast;" and when he said, "Knock the crap out of him, seriously, ok, just knock the hell... I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise," at an Iowa rally.

Trump responded by claiming that some of his protesters were "big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people," but that they were usually handled by "the municipal government, [and] the police." Trump then praised law enforcement before being cut off by the next question.

CNN's Tapper did not press Trump for a clearer answer on his rally language, instead allowing the candidate to end on a positive note lionizing law enforcement.

The exchange comes one night after a protester was sucker-punched at Trump rally in North Carolina. The frontrunner's campaign has been criticized before for its aggressive approach to crowd control. Earlier this week, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reportedly grabbed a reporter for the news site Breitbart to shove her out of the way, causing bruises to form on her arm.