ORLANDO, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump said Friday his supporters were “violent” during the 2016 campaign.
Trump made the admission Friday night during a rally here on the Florida leg of his “Thank You” tour. During the campaign, he repeatedly downplayed violent outbursts his supporters displayed at times toward protesters and insisted that paid activists were instead responsible for inciting violence at his rallies.
“You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean you are going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right?” Trump said Friday. “But now, you’re mellow and you’re cool and you’re not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right?”
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly referred to his rallies as the “safest place on Earth” and called them a “love fest.”
Meanwhile, some Trump supporters occasionally physically assaulted protesters at rallies across the country during the 2016 campaign. In several instances, Trump supporters were also assaulted by protesters after exiting Trump rallies.
Several Trump supporters were charged with assault after attacking protesters at different rallies.
And while Trump suggested that his supporters had mellowed out in their rhetoric as well — “now you’re laid back, you’re cool, you’re mellow, you’re basking in the glory of victory,” he said Friday — the crowd broke out in “Lock her up!” chants twice.
One Trump supporter who obtained a media pass from the Trump transition office shouted from the press pen that Trump’s former opponent Hillary Clinton should be waterboarded.
And a Trump supporter threw an empty water bottle at a reporter following the rally, calling the reporter “trash.”
That incident came after the President-elect repeatedly called reporters “very dishonest” and suggested without evidence that the media distorted exit polls on Election Day.
At a rally in Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday, Trump insisted he was just “laughing and having fun” when he said his supporters had been “vicious” and “violent” during the campaign.