Democracy 2016: The wealthy son of an even wealthier Republican presidential candidate said his father’s coarse expression of violent fantasies against protesters were the flip side to free speech.
Donald Trump was angered Monday when a heckler interrupted his campaign rally in Nevada, and the GOP frontrunner drew cheers from his supporters as he spoke at length about his wish to physically harm the man.
“There’s a guy throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming and everything else when we’re talking, and we’re talking out — we’re not allowed, the guards are very gentle with him, he’s walking, like, big high fives, smiling, laughing — I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump said, although security guards said later that the heckler had not punched anyone.
Don Trump Jr. appeared Tuesday night on Fox News, where host Greta van Susteren questioned him about the outburst.
“I think that’s the sentiment you see from the average person,” the younger Trump said. “They’re sick of being beat up, they’re sick of being pushed around by everyone, they’re sick of not having a voice anymore. That’s just something that’s unusual.”
The elder Trump’s campaign rallies have been punctuated with violence and threats against protesters, and his son suggested hecklers deserved whatever harm came to them.
“I mean, if someone’s trying to break up something, doing a great thing, there’s 10,000 people in a room, watching an incredible event, and someone’s trying to heckle them, I mean, I think it’s a pretty natural response, and I think people love that he’s honest about that,” Trump said. “He doesn’t pretend, ‘Oh, that’s great, he’s exercising whatever it may be, his freedoms.’ He’s going to say it like it is, and that’s what’s resonating so well with the American people.”
Von Susteren said protesters exercising their right to free speech could sometimes be annoying, but she asked the younger Trump whether he agreed there was “something special” about those rights.
“I agree 100 percent, Greta, and there’s something special about being able to say, ‘I want to punch that person in the face,'” Trump said. “It works both ways. I think it’s great that people can exercise that, and he should be able to exercise his right to say what he wants about it.”
The 38-year-old Trump, an executive vice president for The Trump Organization, said his father’s coarseness resonated with angry blue collar workers.
“He’s finally saying the things that people are thinking in their minds, when they’re being beat up by government or they’re being pushed around,” Trump said. “He’s saying what the hard-working, blue collar, middle class American family is thinking. He’s giving them a voice, he’s talking with them, he’s talking to them. He’s not talking at them, like regular politicians are doing, and that’s why he’s getting such a warm reception everywhere we go.”