Politics

Donald Trump Sends a Threatening Message to Bernie Sanders

After a weekend full of contentious, even violent, Donald Trump rallies, the GOP presidential candidate sent what appeared to be a threatening message to Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders via Twitter.

Earlier this week, a planned Chicago Trump rally promised to be contentious, so much so that Trump cancelled his appearance at the event, ostensibly out of safety concerns. Today, Trump targeted a tweet at Sanders suggesting that Sanders had dispatched his supporters to disrupt the Chicago rally and warning the Democrat that Trump would send his own supporters to rile up Sanders rallies.

Though it sounded like a threat, Trump denied that to CNN, saying that the tweet was “not a threat.” Nevertheless, Trump said that if his supporters were to go to a Bernie Sanders rally, everyone would feel bad for Bernie, but that when protesters go to Trump rallies, the media depict Donald Trump as the bad guy.

Trump supporters have taken a lot of flack for their hateful and violent reactions to protesters at Trump rallies. Trump supporters have mocked, degraded and even physically attacked protesters. One man sucker-punched a protester; the alleged assailant later told The Washington Post, “Yes, he deserved it. Next time we might have to kill him.” (That person, John McGraw, 78, was later arrested and charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct.)

When Moderator Jake Tapper brought up the issue of violence at Trump's rallies during a CNN debate on Thursday, Trump said the following:

People come [to Trump campaign events] with tremendous passion and love for their country. ... When they see what's going on in this country, they have anger that’s unbelievable. They have anger. They love this country. They don’t like seeing bad trade deals. They don't like seeing higher taxes. They don't like seeing a loss of their jobs. ... And I see it. There’s some anger. There’s also great love for the country. It’s a beautiful thing in many respects. But I certainly do not condone that at all.

Despite a startling amount of violence at Trump rallies, the candidate deflects blame for inciting his followers, though he often degrades protesters himself from the podium. He’s said in the past of a protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face,” or “knock the crap out of him.” Still, during Thursday night’s CNN debate, Trump said that he hopes he hasn’t done anything to encourage violence at his events.