Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Greenville, N.C.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
And President Trump has just wrapped up a campaign rally in North Carolina; his first rally since he attacked four freshmen Democratic congresswomen of color on Twitter over the weekend. And Trump kept up his criticism tonight. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe has been at tonight's rally. She joins me now from Greenville, N.C.
And, Ayesha, I want to start with what the president said about these four congresswomen - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar. What did he say tonight?
AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: This was a whole section of his speech. He called each lawmaker by name and then went through a list of accusations and attacks. He painted them as anti-American and radical. Omar received the most intense attacks from Trump. Here's a bit of what he said.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back.
RASCOE: So you may not be able to hear exactly what they're chanting, but that was the crowd saying, send her back. They were echoing Trump's racist language from tweets last weekend. Omar is a U.S. citizen. Omar has faced some controversy over some comments she's made about Israel, but she says she is not anti-Semitic. Trump is really trying to make these four women - I should note - who are all women of color, the face of the Democratic Party. And the crowd tonight was really into it. They were shouting traitor. Someone yelled, they're evil. In response to all of this, Omar tweeted a quote from Maya Angelou, saying, you may kill me with your hatefulness but still, like air, I'll rise.
KELLY: I mean, I have to ask you just before we move on. You've been to your share of Trump rallies, Ayesha. How did this one compare? Did it feel different?
RASCOE: It felt a little bit different. The crowd was very into it, but the chant - the send them back and the real just anger at these lawmakers stood out.
KELLY: Yeah. This rally, as we mentioned - this is a campaign rally. It's part of the president's reelection campaign. Did he say anything about the Democrats who are actually running against him for president?
RASCOE: Well, he bashed former Vice President Joe Biden for his performance during the first debate a few weeks ago. Here's what Trump said about Biden.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
TRUMP: They have a new one who knocked the hell out of Biden during a debate. He said, I wasn't prepared for that question. That's not a good answer.
RASCOE: And he also went after Elizabeth Warren, doing his usual bit - mocking her claims about having Native American ancestry. And for Bernie Sanders - he said that Bernie Sanders had missed his chance last time in 2016, I guess, to get the nomination. He also claimed that Sanders is promising voters free health care and college, but he said he won't be able to deliver.
KELLY: Now, you have been there reporting in Greenville, N.C., these last couple of days. What are you hearing from people here in terms of how they view events of these last few days?
RASCOE: Well, it's interesting because even though, obviously, this rally was - there were a lot of supporters for President Trump. The town of Greenville, actually - and the county; Pitt County - did not go for President Trump in the last election. Before the rally, I talked to the pastor of a historic African American church in Greenville. It was founded after the Civil War. And - interim Pastor Kenneth Hammond. And what he said is that these words from Trump telling people to go back from where they came from - that it's undeniably racist and that it's offensive. And I talked to an advocate for the Latino community here, and he talked about how schoolchildren have had to deal with these exact same sorts of insults since Trump got elected and that after the election, that schoolchildren who are immigrants...
RASCOE: ...Were being told that they're going to have to go back to their country.
KELLY: NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, talking about the range of views she's encountering there in Greenville, N.C.
Thank you, Ayesha.
RASCOE: Thank you.
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