White House

‘Send her back’ chants aren’t heard in Ohio, Trump’s first campaign rally since NC

President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally Thursday since the crowd in Greenville, N.C., chanted “send her back” about a Democratic congresswoman.

And while Trump briefly criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — the target of his earlier attacks — he did not mention her by name — and the Cincinnati crowd did not chant “send her back.”

Unlike his event on the East Carolina University campus, Trump did not go on an extended critique of Omar or three other first-term liberal congresswoman of color.

Thursday’s rally was at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Ohio, like North Carolina, is seen as a key state in Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

Omar immigrated to the United States from Somalia when she was a child and became a U.S. citizen as a teen. The other congresswomen — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — were all born in the United States.

Early in his speech Thursday, Trump went after them again. He said the Democrats were “now being led by four left-wing extremists that reject everything we hold dear.”

But Trump did not spend much time on them. He quickly pivoted to Democratic leadership of urban centers, mirroring a shift he has made in recent weeks as he has attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings, a black congressman from Maryland.

Trump’s new Democratic target is the chairman of the House’s oversight committee, and his district, which includes Baltimore. Trump criticized him and the city in a series of tweets over the weekend. Trump continued his attacks on Cummings and Baltimore before he left D.C. on Thursday.

Before the rally, Trump was coy about how he might react to the crowd’s chants.

“I can’t tell you whether or not they’re going to do that chant. If they do the chant, we’ll have to see what happens,” Trump told reporters before departing Washington, D.C.

“I don’t know that you can stop people. I don’t know that you can. I mean, we’ll see what we can do. I’d prefer that they don’t, but if they do it, we’ll have to make a decision then.”

Trump had attacked the four outspoken congresswomen in the days leading up the Greenville rally. He continued the attacks during the event, prompting the chant. It dominated the conversation on social media after the rally with some North Carolinaians feeling shame and others defending the crowd.

Many have called the attacks on the four congresswomen and Cummings racist. Trump has defended himself against that charge, saying he is the “least racist person in the world” in a tweet. In the tweet defending himself, Trump called CNN anchor Don Lemon, who is black, “the dumbest man on television.”

The Cincinnati arena has a capacity of about 17,000, and Trump said it was at capacity during his speech.

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Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at 202.383.6089 or bmurphy@mcclatchydc.com.