- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2016

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Friday defended his supporters’ use of violence against protesters at his campaign rallies, arguing they should respond if anti-Trump protesters start a fight.

Mr. Trump cited an incident at a Nevada rally last month where he said a protester lashed out violently at security guards.

“He was a guy who was swinging, very loud and he started swinging. And you know what? The audience swung back, and it was very appropriate,” Mr. Trump said, the Hill reported.

“He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of,” Mr. Trump added.

His comments come one day after a man was charged with assault after sucker punching a protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina on Wednesday. 

Earlier this month, video footage of several Trump supporters, including some alleged white supremacists, assaulting a Black Lives Matter protester at a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky, went viral.

SEE ALSO: John McGraw, Trump supporter, charged with assault, punched protester, threatened more violence

This is not the first time Mr. Trump has seemingly given his supporters permission to use violence to quell protests at his rallies.

Earlier this month Mr. Trump told supporters who were leading a protester out of a rally in Michigan to “try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court.”

When asked at Thursday night’s GOP debate if he has done anything to incite violence at his rallies, Mr. Trump said, “I hope not, I truly hope not.”

Mr. Trump said he does not condone violence at his campaign events, but said his supporters are fueled by anger over what’s going on in the country.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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