Skip to Content

‘Send Her Back’ Chants at Trump Rally: How 2020 Presidential Candidates Responded

Showing a united front, several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates defended Somalia-born Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar after supporters of President Donald Trump chanted at a rally, "Send her back!"

"It’s vile. It’s cowardly. It’s xenophobic," California Senator Kamala Harris tweeted in response to the chants during Wednesday's event in Greenville, N.C.

"It’s racist. It defiles the office of the President. And I won’t share it here," she said. "It’s time to get Trump out of the office and unite the country."

But Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he didn't agree with the chants - despite clearly being seen nodding his head in apparent approval when he heard them on Wednesday.

"I'll try to stop (the chants) if it happens again," Trump said.

However, Harris' comments and those similar from other candidates came almost immediately after Trump began attacking Omar, and three other Democratic first-term congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan during Wednesday's rally. The congresswomen have taken Trump to task after for his controversial and divisive tweets against them telling them to "go back" to their countries, earlier this week.

All of the representatives were born in the U.S. except Omar, who came to the U.S. as a young girl fleeing war-torn Somalia with her family 20 years ago.

During Wednesday's rally, Trump went on a five-minute diatribe on Omar, drawing boos from his supporters. The president attacked Omar for comments she made about Israel that were condemned as anti-Semitic and remarks perceived as dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"And she looks down with contempt on the hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country," Trump said. 

"Send her back! Send her back!" the crowd started to chant.

Democratic frontrunner and former vice president Joe Biden in a series of tweets Wednesday strongly encouraged Trump to stop his rhetoric, adding that "Our children are listening."

"We’ve heard it before throughout our history, but it has no place in America in 2019," Biden tweeted. "It’s clear that Donald Trump is trying to divide us by race and gender. It’s immoral."

Biden praised immigrants as an example of "what makes America great," adding, "Donald Trump thinks that our nation’s great diversity makes us weak—because he has no idea what makes us great."

"So, Mr. President, I am here to tell you this. This is OUR country: The United States of America," Bided also tweeted. "You'll never understand what makes us strong. And that's why the American people are going to vote you out of office next year."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders agreed with Biden with a tweet of his own, along with the hashtag, #IStandWithIlhan.

"Trump knows that when we stand together and fight for racial, social, economic and environmental justice, we have the power to defeat him," Sanders said. "So the demagogue is doing what he knows best: Divide and conquer through hate. His attacks only make us stronger."

Beto O' Rourke tweeted that Trump knows how to stoke up his base with his comments.

"These chants don’t happen by accident. They are the product of a president who sees our diversity not as a strength, but as a weakness," O'Rourke said. "I believe in our country. And I believe, together, not allowing our differences to divide us, we will defeat him and everything he stands for."

And, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand shared a similar view, tweeting that Trump’s attack on Omar shows his ongoing "contempt for women."

"Whether it’s ‘send her back’ or 'lock her up,' 'there has to be some form of punishment' or 'grab her by the p***y' — the throughline is contempt for women and anyone who threatens this president’s fragile ego," Gillibrand said. "He should be afraid. We are his worst nightmare. And we will beat him."

In response, Omar, tweeted several lines from the poet Maya Angelou's poem, "Still I Rise," Wednesday:

"You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise."

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—What to expect from the second Democratic debate

—Who wins and loses as White House withdraws drug rebate plan

—A new holding center for migrant children is open in Texas

—Fed Chairman Powell: If Trump asks me to leave, I won’t

Tom Steyer mastered markets and now he wants to topple Trump

Get up to speed on your morning commute with Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter.