Mar 12, 2016 10:12 PM
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio decried Donald Trump's baiting and "offensive" rhetoric Saturday morning, following an eruption of violence at an event for the GOP front-runner in Chicago the previous night.
"I think we also have to look at the rhetoric coming from the front-runner in the presidential campaign," Rubio told reporters in Largo, Florida. "This is a man who, in rallies, has told his supporters to basically beat up the people who are in the crowd and he will pay their legal fees. Someone who has basically encouraged people in the audience to rough up anyone who stands up and says something he doesn't like."
"Leadership has never been about taking people's anger and using it to get them to vote for you. If it is, it's a dangerous style of leadership. Leadership is about acknowledging people's anger, but as a leader trying to address why it is they're angry, instead of manipulating their anger so that they become your voter, your donor and your supporter," he continued. "So I think Donald Trump needs to ask when is he going to start condemning this stuff, because instead all he's saying is 'these are really bad dudes at my events."
When asked if he would still back the eventual Republican nominee if it was Donald Trump, Rubio responded: "I don't know."
"I still at this moment continue and intend to support the Republican nominee, but, getting harder every day," he said. An email sent out by his campaign later Saturday referred to the scenes from the cancelled Chicago rally as something "we would see in a third-world country."
Trump has yet to denounce the violence, instead blaming protesting "thugs" for having "totally energized America" in a tweet early Saturday.
As protesters made their mark at his latest rally, Donald Trump seemed to relish the interruptions.
In Kansas City, Missouri, he repeatedly ridiculed them - as people with a "little weak voice" and saying "go home to mommy." Even while stirring up his boisterous supporters, he asked security to be "very gentle" when taking the protesters out.
By about 20 minutes into his remarks, more than a dozen demonstrators were escorted out, offering little resistance. Most of them are white.
Trump was eager to engage them. As he put it: "There is nothing so interesting as a Trump rally."
Earlier in Cleveland, a handful of protesters interrupted Trump's rally in that city, but the event otherwise appeared calm.
Trump was interrupted shortly after taking the stage on Saturday. He used the moment to criticize the protesters who flooded into his event in Chicago on Friday night, leading him to postpone it indefinitely.
He says: "We were not allowed to exercise our First Amendment rights."
At a rally earlier Saturday outside Dayton, Ohio, Trump was briefly surrounded by Secret Service agents when a man tried to breach the security buffer. He was stopped and Trump continued with his speech.