Senator Marco Rubio's remarks:
I also think we have to look at the rhetoric coming from the frontrunner in the presidential campaign. This is a man who in rallies has told his supporters to basically beat up the people who are in the crowd, and he’ll pay their legal fees. Someone who has encouraged people in the audience to rough up anyone who stands up and says something he doesn’t like.
And I think the media has to bear some responsibility. For too long those comments were ignored. Some people thought they’re cute, and he’s gotten an extraordinary amount of coverage for all the stuff he says that’s outrageous. Every time Donald Trump offends someone, says something ridiculous, says something offensive its wall to wall coverage, and its only elevated him even more. And so I think we all look at this and say everyone bears responsibility for what’s happening.
But the result is this is what a culture and a society looks like when everybody says whatever the heck they want. When everyone just goes around saying I’m just gonna speak my mind. If I’m angry it gives me the right to say or do anything I want. Well there are other people that are angry too. And if they speak out and say whatever they want the result is that it all breaks down. It’s called chaos. It’s called anarchy. And that’s what we’re careening towards in our political process.
The great thing about our republic is that we settle our differences in this country at the ballot box. Not with guns or bayonets or violence. And you wonder whether we’re headed in a different direction today. Where we’re no longer able or capable of having differences of opinion, but in fact now protests become a license to take violence to take on your opponents physically.
Forget about the election for a moment, there’s a broader issue in our political culture in this country. And this is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of anger and bitterness and frustration, and I think we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves are we contributing to this. Because if this continues this country will continue to be ripped apart at the seams, and we will be incapable of solving any of the major issues that we have.
Q. Senator, what do you think this means for the future of the Republican party?
I think the question is what does it mean to the future of America not just the Republican party. Look Barack Obama has used divisive language as well. I will admit he hasn’t called on people in the crowd to beat people up but he has divided Americans up among, you know, class warfare and things of this nature. I don’t think he bears any responsibility for last night. There’s real frustration in America. There are people in this country who are angry because they are working really hard and their jobs are gone. There are people in this country that are angry because they feel disenfranchised from the American dream. But, the job of a leader is not to stoke that anger. The job of a leader is to address the causes of that anger and try to solve it. Not try to stoke that anger so that they vote for you. And this in many ways, not just Chicago, put that aside for a moment, the broader anger that now exists in the American political discourse is a direct result of the fact that words have consequences. That when you run for president of the United States or if you are president of the United States, which everyone is endeavoring to be, you can’t just take on the attitude that I’m going to say whatever I want. You can’t say whatever you want. It has real life consequences for people in this country and all over the world. And we’re starting to see it bear out. You saw those images last night of people getting in their face often divided up among racial lines in many cases. Police officers bleeding from the head reminiscent of images from the ‘60's. I mean we’re going backwards here. This is a frightening, grotesque and disturbing development in American politics.
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But it’s not just about Chicago. It happened in St. Louis. It happened earlier this week. Allegedly his campaign manager has roughed up a reporter at an event. This has happened repeatedly now. This is not new. This is a pattern of the idea that we are angry and since we are angry we can say or do whatever we want. We are tired of being constrained by civility. Tired of being constrained by rules of cultural engagement. And I get it people are frustrated at the direction of our country. But leaders cannot say whatever they want because words have consequences. They lead to actions that others take. And when the person you’re supporting for president is going around saying things like go ahead and slap ‘em around, I’ll pay your legal fees. What do you think’s going to happen next? Someone’s going to actually literally believe it and take it upon themselves. And when you have someone sucker punch a guy at an event and then the day after he’s released from jail talking about the next time we may have to kill him. That’s just one person. But I guarantee you there are others that felt the same way.