Posted On 18 Jul 2019
Lawmakers from both parties swiftly condemned a boisterous “send her back” chant aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., during President Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday night in North Carolina.
The chant broke out after the president went on an extended rant about Omar and three of her House colleagues — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
“Omar laughed that Americans speak of al Qaeda in a menacing tone,” he said of the congresswoman. “You don’t say America with this intensity. You say al Qaeda makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don’t speak that way about America,” he added, referring to her remarks in a 2013 interview. Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization, rated his past characterization of Omar’s remarks as “false.”
At this point, the crowd began chanting “Send her back!”
Omar, a Somali refugee, moved to the United States when she was 12 and is a naturalized citizen.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 hopeful, lambasted the president for “stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society.”
“And that very hatred and racism fuels him,” he tweeted.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted, “These chants don’t happen by accident. They are the product of a president who sees our diversity not as a strength, but as a weakness.”
A spokesman for the Trump campaign appeared to defend the chants Thursday in a statement to NBC News.
“The Squad, as they call themselves, are now the leaders of the Democrat Party,” Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director, said. “Americans don’t like it when elected officials consistently disparage this country. All the Democrats are pushing socialist ideas that are terrible for America. They are all the same.”
The president caused an uproar in Washington after he tweeted Sunday that the four congresswomen should “go back” from where they came. Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were quick to denounce the president’s comments as both racist and inaccurate.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics
Tlaib, a Palestinian American, was born in Michigan; Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Hispanic descent, was born in New York; and Pressley, who is African American, was born in Cincinnati.
Omar responded to the rally Wednesday night, saying, “I am where I belong.”
Ocasio-Cortez chimed in Thursday morning, tweeting, “To all those scared for our future: we can get through this better than we started.”
“We have the power to triumph over hatred, division, and bigotry,” she continued. “But decency cannot be taken for granted. It is something we must create, advance, and actively work to build each and every day.”
Even some of Omar’s strongest critics have denounced the chants. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. and vice chair of the House GOP, said on Twitter that he “struggled with the ‘send her back’ chant tonight referencing Rep. Omar.”
“Her history, words & actions reveal her great disdain for both America & Israel,” Walker, who was in attendance at Trump’s rally, wrote. “That should be our focus and not phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said he was “disgusted” by the chant, which he called “ugly” and “wrong.”
On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled House passed a resolution condemning Trump over racist comments her made about the four congresswomen over the weekend. But, just before Trump’s Wednesday night rally, the House rejected an effort to impeach the president over the remarks.
A number of other House and Senate Democrats spoke out regarding the chant, with some comparing it to the “lock her up” cries aimed at 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at prior Trump rallies.
“Whether it’s “send her back” or “lock her up,” “there has to be some form of punishment” or “grab her by the p***y”— the throughline is contempt for women and anyone who threatens this president’s fragile ego,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted. “He should be afraid. We are his worst nightmare. And we will beat him.”
“We condemned the president’s comments the other day,” Pelosi said Thursday when asked about the chant. “That’s our statement.”
Jonathan Allen and Monica Alba contributed.