"I think for every one of us, we need to show respect to the people. We need to remember who it is we're working for," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). "You know, we've seen for seven years a president who believes he's above the law, who behaves like an emperor, who it is all about him and he forgot that he's working for the American people. And let me — let me ask, turn the camera our here. How many of y'all feel disrespected by Washington?"
When some audience members cheered, Cruz said confidently that "the frustration that is boiling over" came from people feeling disrespected.
Cruz blamed Obama but at no point said that the violence was wrong.
But John McGraw, the man arrested for assault in North Carolina, did not give reporters the impression of a man driven to temporarily over-reaction by big government. Interviewed by Inside Edition, he expressed no remorse.
"Yes, he deserved it," McGraw said. "The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don't know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization."
None of Trump's rivals opted to condemn that action — or condemn Trump for anything he'd done to incite it.
"I worry about the violence at a rally period," said Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio). "I mean, it's — you know, elections are important but the unity of this country really matters. Jake, here's what I think is happening. There are people out there who are worried about their jobs."
Kasich blamed Obama and unemployment. He's worried, but that's as far as he's willing to go.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ran even further away from the context, opting — like Trump — to immediately change the subject from vigilante violence at a rally to how law enforcement officers "deserve our respect" every day.
"On the issue of anger: Yes, people are angry," said Rubio. "Of course they're angry. Every institution in America has been failing us for the better part of 20 years or 30 years."
The "violence" round of the debate was in sync with the rest of the night, as candidates passed on chance after chance to criticize Trump. (Cruz was often the exception, but he said little that was not recycled from stump speeches.) The debate ended with none of Trump's rivals criticizing him for incitement, or for expressly criticizing the violence that had swallowed a day of news — and more directly, injured a peaceful protester.
Nobody on that stage gave a damn about a black man getting his face punched in for the crime of being a black man at a Trump rally. Nobody who supports these monsters cares, Nobody who enables these monsters cares. Nobody who created these monsters cares.
Here's Trump's response this morning to the assault:
Let me just tell you, we’ve had some violent people as protestors. You know, they are not just people saying, ‘Oh’ — these are people that punch. These are people that are violent people. I get the biggest crowds, by far, not even a contest and — you know, you people don’t like to report it, but actually the one thing good about protestors is you have to go and go into these stadiums, these massive stadiums with 25,000 and 30,000 people and you have to — [indecipherable] because the cameras never turn. I bet the cameras never, ever turn and show the stadium. I always say turn and show the — they don’t. But when is a protestors up in the corner it’s great, because the camera is all there [indecipherable]. Because, you know it’s a negative as opposed to a positive so they turn.
But we’ve had a couple that were really violent. And the particular one when I said, like to bang him. That was — a very vicious — you know, he is a guy who was swinging very loud and then started swinging at the audience. And you know what? The audience swung back. And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging, he was hitting people and the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of. Now, I’m not talking about just a protesters. This was a guy who was — should not have been allowed to do what he did. And frankly, if you want to know the truth, the police were very, very restrained. The police have been amazing. But the police were very, very restrained.”
What rough beast, indeed.