President Donald Trump said Thursday that he isn't happy with his supporters' "send her back" chant directed at progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that erupted at his North Carolina rally on Wednesday.
"I was not happy with it — I disagree with it," Trump told reporters at the White House. Asked why he did not stop it, Trump said he thought he did.
"I started speaking very quickly," Trump said.
Video of the event does not show the president disagreeing with his supporters. Instead, it shows Trump paused as the chant began, allowing his supporters to continue before he launched into further criticism of the Minnesota Democrat.
"She talked about the evil Israel and 'It's all about the Benjamins.' Not a good thing to say. So, that's Omar. That's Omar," Trump said after a pause. Omar apologized in February after she was accused of employing anti-Semitic tropes in tweets about Israel.
Omar was born in Somalia and became a U.S. citizen as a teenager. She was elected to Congress last year. She is one of four progressive Democrats that Trump told to "go back" to the "places from which they came" over the weekend. On Monday, Trump said Omar "hates Jews" and accused her of praising al-Qaeda.
In response to the president's rally, Omar said Thursday that Trump was "spewing his fascist ideology on stage."
"We are Americans as much as everyone else. This is our country. And we are where we belong," Omar said.
In a post on Twitter, Omar quoted the poet Maya Angelou, writing: "You may shoot me with your words,/ You may cut me with your eyes,/ You may kill me with your hatefulness,/But still, like air, I'll rise."
Republicans have been mostly silent on the chant, though some have sought to distance the president from the actions of his supporters.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the chants have "no place in our party and no place in this country."
But McCarthy, speaking at a news conference, said the president "never joined in it. And you want to try to hold him accountable for something in what a big audience did?"
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who was at the rally, wrote in a post on Twitter: "Though it was brief, I struggled with the 'send her back' chant tonight referencing Rep Omar. Her history, words & actions reveal her great disdain for both America & Israel. That should be our focus and not phrasing that's painful to our friends in the minority communities."
During the 2016 campaign, "lock her up" was a signature Trump rally chant, referring to rival Hillary Clinton.