The Donald Trump presidential campaign is much to blame for the recent attacks on protesters at Trump campaign rallies, according to one of his key rivals for the GOP nomination.
Citing a need for a president “who brings us together,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the Trump campaign, saying “responsibility starts at the top.”
Cruz’s comments dovetailed with a fresh campaign win; The Associated Press reported that Cruz won nine of the 12 delegates up for grabs in Saturday’s GOP county conventions in Wyoming.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the senator called into question the style of the Trump campaign, which has increasingly been the source of fisticuffs between Trump supporters and protesters. On Friday, a Trump rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago had to be canceled because of several clashes between Trump backers and protesters inside the hall.
On the program, which airs on Sunday, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd asks Cruz: “Is Donald Trump the one that’s responsible for the tone of his rallies, and Donald Trump alone?”
“Well, let’s be clear. Listen, the protesters have no right to engage in violence,” Cruz says. “They have no right to threaten violence. And these protesters, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Bernie Sanders protesters, who are coming in just trying to shout down any speaker, that’s not free speech. The First Amendment gives you a right to speak, but it doesn’t give you a right to silence others. So the protesters are behaving abusively and wrong.
“But, at the end of the day, in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. And it is not beneficial when you have a presidential candidate like Donald Trump telling his supporters, ‘Punch that guy in the face.’ We ought to have a president who brings us together, who doesn’t seek to divide us. We’ve seen a president dividing us for seven years. We don’t want to see that going forward.”
“Meet the Press With Chuck Todd” airs on NBC Sundays at 9 a.m. ET, and re-airs at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT