Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump Sunday threatened to dispatch his supporters to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rallies, accusing the Vermont lawmaker’s backers of being behind the violent clashes at his events.
"I don't even call them protesters," Trump said on CNN’s "State of the Union. "I call them disrupters. A lot of them come from Bernie Sanders, whether he wants to say it or not. And if he says no, then he's lying."
In a tweet, Trump accused Sanders of "lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events." He added: "Be careful, Bernie, or my supporters will go yours."
Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he wasn’t threatening Sanders.
"It’s not a threat at all," he said. "Look, my people have said, we ought to go to his rallies, because, you know, it’s sort of interesting."
Sanders, I-Vt., responded to Trump’s accusation by calling the billionaire real estate mogul and former reality television show host a liar.
"We should take Mr. Trump's words with a grain of salt, because I think, as almost everybody knows, this man cannot stop lying about anything," he said. "To call me a communist is a lie. To talk about our organization or our campaign disrupting his meeting is a lie."
Sanders said that some of the protesters who forced the cancellation of Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Friday night and disrupted events Dayton, Ohio, and Kansas City, Mo., Saturday "were supporters of mine."
But he added that "certainly, absolutely, we had nothing to do, our campaign had nothing to do with disrupting his meeting."
"I would hope my supporters will not disrupt meetings," Sanders said. "We have millions of supporters, and people do things. But it was not our campaign."
Republican and Democratic presidential candidates from both parties have condemned the recent uptick in violence at Trump events. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have said that Trump is partially to blame for creating a toxic atmosphere at his rallies.
"This is now multiple rallies where people are assaulted and beat up, where a guy gets sucker punched by one of the Trump supporters, and then instead of condemning it, Trump is silent," Rubio said on "State of the Union." "I mean he (Trump) has turned the most important election in a generation into a circus, into a complete fiasco and a carnival."
Rubio warned that Trump’s rhetoric and actions at his campaign events may encourage someone who is mentally ill to act dangerously.
"Maybe you think it’s a joke, but there are people out there that are not balanced," he said. "There are people out there that are not completely in control of themselves and they hear something like this from a leader, you don’t know what they’re going to do next. And when someone is seeking a position of leadership and is already is in a position of influence, you speak responsibly."
Trump dismissed Rubio’s complaints.
"In Florida, we have a man, Marco Rubio, who doesn't even show up to vote in the U.S. Senate," Trump said on CNN Sunday. "He's a disgrace. He's weak, very weak on illegal immigration, wants to give amnesty to everybody. He's a person that I don't think he could be elected dogcatcher in Florida, frankly…"