US president-elect Donald Trump has celebrated how ”vicious” and ”violent” his supporters were during the 2016 election campaign.
During the Florida leg of his “Thank You” tour, Trump spoke at an Orlando rally and conceded his supporters had been nasty and violent in the lead up to the election, contradicting his previous assessments of their behaviour.
“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,” Mr Trump said Friday.
”I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right?” “But now, you’re mellow and you’re cool and you’re not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right?”
— CNN (@CNN) December 17, 2016
During the campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly downplayed his supporters’ at-times vitriolic outbursts towards protesters, suggesting paid activists were responsible for inciting violence at his rallies.
He repeatedly referred to his rallies as the “safest place on Earth” and “love fests”.
His opponent, Hillary Clinton, referred to many of his supporters as ”deplorables”, a term that Mr Trump and some supporters have now adopted as a badge of honour.
“Whatever happened to ‘The Deplorables’?” Trump asked at the Orlando rally, to loud cheers.
“They’re not so deplorable any more. In fact the other side are starting to figure out, well, in four years how do we get some of those deplorables to our side.”
While Mr Trump suggested his supporters had mellowed and were “basking in the glory of victory”, the Orlando crowd twice broke out into chants of “Lock her up!” about Ms Clinton, while one supporter who had obtained a media pass from the Trump transition office shouted ”waterboard her”.
During the 2016 election campaign Trump supporters occasionally physically assaulted protesters at rallies, and vice versa. Several Trump supporters were charged with assault after attacking protesters at rallies.
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) December 17, 2016
During his 50-minute speech in Orlando Mr Trump made no reference to Russia’s alleged meddling in the election campaign or to President Barack Obama’s comments on the matter.
He instead devoted his words almost entirely to reliving what he called a magical election night in which he defied the pundits.