Trump rallies are not traditionally the place for decorum. But on Wednesday evening, at a rally in the Florida Panhandle, an audience member said the xenophobic quiet part loud, responding to a line from the president on immigration.
“You have hundreds and hundreds of [migrants] and you have two or three border security people that are brave and great — and don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons,” Trump said, in Panama City Beach. “We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t, I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?” An audience member had an idea. “Shoot them,” he yelled, which caused the president, and much of the televised backdrop of crowd members, to laugh. “Only in the panhandle can you get away with that statement,” Trump said, interpreting the call to violence as a joke.
Trump’s response, of course, provides a tacit endorsement of the audience member’s call: If the president says you have gotten away with saying something horrendous, one might assume the behavior was okay. But it’s little surprise that Trump, swooning in rally mode, didn’t provide a defense of migrant rights.