Rubio: Chicago Violence ‘Very Disturbing,’ ‘No One Is Blameless’ For Divisions and Incidents at Trump Rallies

Republican presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio reacted to the cancellation of fellow candidate Donald Trump’s rally in Chicago by saying that the incident is “very disturbing” and the fault of the protesters, but that “no one is blameless” for the division in the country and other violent incidents at Trump’s rallies on Friday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.

Rubio said, “Well, it’s a very disturbing night for a lot of reasons.” After thanking the police in Chicago for their handling of the situation, Rubio continued, “This is Chicago. Protesters are an industry. It is clear, just from watching some of these images, that this was an organized effort, an orchestrated effort, on the part of groups that wanted to disrupt an event, and then Chicago is a hub for that kind of activity. There’s no doubt it. I would also say that, people have a right, whether you disagree with someone, what they’re about to say, and I most certainly disagree with many of the things Donald Trump says…but you don’t have a right to take away the First Amendment right of people to speak freely. I think you’ve seen some of this on college campuses recently. There was an article not long ago, I think that Ben Shapiro tried to speak on a campus. They basically shut him down. So I think this is kind of crossing over into the broader society, and it’s problematic.”

He added, “I will say, no one is blameless here. I wouldn’t say Mr. Trump’s responsible for the events of tonight, but he most certainly, in other events, has in the past, used some pretty rough language, and encouraging the crowd, saying things like, in the good old days we used to beat these people up, or I’ll pay your legal bills if you rough someone up. So, I think he bears some responsibility for the general tone of the things that have [been] happening before. As far as what’s happening tonight, I mean, clearly this is an orchestrated effort by people, some of whom are probably being paid to this. And I think it’s just sad all the way to see these images, where — it clearly, there’s some level of ethnic and racial divide in how this is playing out on television. I just think it reflects very poorly on our country. It’s — I don’t — I think it’s sad all the way around tonight, I really do. I’m very sad for our country.”

He further stated, “[O]ne of the appeals of Donald Trump, I believe is that he says what a lot of people wish they could say, but it’s not politically correct to say, or it’s not polite to say, and he says it. He says it on a big platform, and people love it. It’s cathartic. The problem is, when you’re going to be president of the United States, or when you’re running for president, or when you are president, you can’t just say whatever you want. These words have real consequences. … I am not telling you that what there happened tonight is something I blame him for, because I will tell you that those people that are there, are professional protesters, in an array of different interest groups. I guarantee you, some of these people are being paid to do this, and you can see it just in the interviews afterwards, as well. But I am saying, he does bear a responsibility for some of the other things that have happened at his events, including people being punched in the face, allegedly a reporter also being roughed up the other day. I think there’s blame to go around here, and I think it reflects — we are entering a kind of a very disturbing moment in our political discourse in this country that is reaching a boiling point, that I believe, has very significant repercussions, not just for this election, but for the future of this country. I mean, the — we are being ripped apart at the seams, as a nation, and as a people right now. And I think the president bears some blame for that as well, in terms of some of the rhetoric he’s used. You see some of it reflected on college campuses as well.”

Rubio concluded, after saying that the political impact of the events in Chicago was “secondary.” “Look, there’s real significant anger and frustration at the direction of our country. People feel every major institution has let them down, the media, academia, organized religion, the political parties, the political process. People are hurting, and they’re upset, and they’re angry. And I think it’s the job of leaders not to stoke that anger, but to use that anger, and channel it in a way that allows us to reach solutions, as opposed to stoke that anger in a way that drives us to a political victory on a given election year. You know, the president flirted with this himself. I mean, President Obama has spent the last eight years dividing Americans along haves and have-nots, along ethnic, racial lines, gender lines in order to win elections. I think this has gone to the next level here, and we’re seeing the consequences of it. And that, in combination with the fact that, I think there’s a need to remind people that the First Amendment allows people to disagree with issues and say things that you don’t agree with, which is obviously being lost here. And then this sort of sense now on the left that if you don’t like what someone’s saying, you have the right to just shut them down, as you see happen on many college campuses across America, and you saw tonight there in Chicago.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett