U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday defended his supporters who chanted 'send her back' at a campaign rally this week.
The chant was directed at Somali-born Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "That stadium was packed.
It was a record crowd.
And I could have filled it ten times, as you know.
Those are incredible people.
Those are incredible patriots." Omar and three other progressive Democratic Congresswomen have been the subject of Trump's vitriol for a week.
The attacks started Sunday night when Trump tweeted that the four women, who are black, Hispanic or Muslim, "go back" to the places from which they came.
Omar is the only one not born in America.
The congresswoman was greeted with cheers at the Minneapolis airport Thursday night.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ILHAN OMAR, SAYING: "And when I said I was the president's nightmare, you're watching it now!
Because his nightmare is seeing a Somali immigrant refugee rise to Congress!" Trump responded to her remarks Friday by saying this: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "But I'm unhappy when a Congresswomen goes, and says, 'I'm going to be the president's nightmare.'
She's going to be the president's nightmare.
She's lucky to be wear she is." Trump has been widely accused of race-baiting, and a House resolution earlier this week condemned his tweet as racist.
It sparked enough concern that Trump on Thursday at first tried to distance himself from his supporters' chant: REPORTER: "Why didn't you ask them to stop saying that?" TRUMP: "Well, number one, I think I did.
I started speaking very quickly.
It really was a, loud - I disagree with it, by the way." His disavowal came after Republicans worried the sentiment could set the tone for the 2020 campaign.
Republican Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina said, “We cannot be defined by this.” Walker said that Republican leaders in the House discussed their concerns with Vice President Mike Pence.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "Well the president's not a racist." Republicans have squirmed at defending Trump’s language, but as of Friday only about one-fifth of the 250 Republicans in Congress have publicly criticized the President’s words.
Omar, along with the three other Congresswomen, has received death threats but her supporters remain undaunted.
[upsound] Omar supporter: "We have your back!" Omar: "And we are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us!"