- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2016

The White House blasted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump Monday for “inflaming tensions” among Americans, in the wake of fistfights and other violence at Trump campaign rallies.

“One of the reasons there’s so much energy at these events is you have an aspiring political leader inflaming tensions and appealing to people’s darker impulses and trying to capitalize on their anxieties to provide energy for his campaign,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who has blamed the campaign of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernard Sanders for sending protesters to disrupt his rallies, downplayed the controversy Monday. He said his campaign events are actually “lovefests.”

The president’s spokesman also criticized Republican Party leaders who “wring their hands about Mr. Trump’s behavior but pledge fealty” to him.

“For the life of me, I just don’t understand how they do that,” Mr. Earnest said. “At some point somebody in the Republican Party is going to have to step up and show some leadership.”

At a Democratic fundraiser in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, the president criticized Republican candidates engaging in “insults and schoolyard taunts” and inciting “violence against other Americans, or excluding them.”

“We’re a better country than that,” the president said.

Asked if Mr. Obama is worried about Mr. Trump’s temperament to be commander in chief, Mr. Earnest reiterated that the president doesn’t believe the real-estate mogul will win the presidency.

“I don’t think he loses a lot of sleep over that prospect,” Mr. Earnest said.

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