WASHINGTON – The morning after chants of "Send her back" rang across one of his campaign rallies, President Donald Trump sought to disavow it, insisting that he "was not happy with it."
Trump made no effort to stop the chanting during his rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night. The crowd broke into the chant after Trump began cataloging grievances against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Rather than admonish them, he paused for about 12 seconds and looked on, appearing to show approval.
But "I was not happy with it – I disagree with it," Trump told reporters during a photo session in the Oval Office on Thursday morning.
His disavowal of the chants was rare for a president who hates to appear as if he is either apologizing or bowing to pressure to appear "politically correct."
It could also put Trump in an awkward position if he renews his criticism of Omar and three other women lawmakers of color who have been his targets over the past week.
Similar to earlier tweet
The "Send her back" chant echoed Trump's own words in a tweet earlier this week in which he said that "progressive Democrat congresswomen" could "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." And at the rally, shortly after the chanting, Trump said, "Hey, if they don't like it, let them leave, let them leave. Right? Let them leave."
His apparent turnaround came after a growing number of Republican congressional leaders criticized the chant, but sought to put distance between the crowd and the president.