Two protesters were removed from a Donald Trump rally in Muscatine, Iowa, Sunday after they stood up during the candidate’s speech and revealed a sign reading “Stop Hate.” One of the protesters was wearing a bright red turban, and Trump called out the man, asking his supporters if the man had been wearing “one of those hats.”
Trump had been talking about acts of terrorism, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and last year’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, when the two protesters stood. The crowd around them began chanting “USA, USA, USA” and Trump, who paused his speech, repeatedly told the men “goodbye.”
Once the men left, Trump addressed the crowd. “He wasn't wearing one of those hats, was he? And he never will, and that's OK because we got to do something folks because it's not working,” he said.
It was unclear whether Trump was referring to the protester wearing the turban. The New York billionaire’s signature “Make America Great Again” hats are a similar shade of red as the turban.
"He wasn't wearing one of those hats, was he?" Trump asks after men, one in a turban, interrupt rally https://t.co/2NJWSyGUhm
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 24, 2016
In the past few months, the Trump campaign has read a message at campaign events telling supporters to “not harm a protester,” ABC News reported. Instead, attendees are encouraged to chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” to alert security to the presence of a protester.
Protesters have been removed at many other Trump rallies. Earlier this month, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was ejected from an event in South Carolina when she stood up in silent protest during the candidate’s speech. In November, after a fight broke out at a Trump rally in Alabama, the Republican commented that “maybe he [the protester] should have been roughed up.”
— Josh Haskell (@joshbhaskell) January 24, 2016
With just a week left until the first 2016 nominating contest in Iowa Feb. 1, Trump has been using his campaign events to strike out at his competition, chiefly Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The two have been in a close race in Iowa polls over the past month, with Cruz starting to pull ahead recently. However, a poll released Sunday by Fox News indicated Trump was up by 11 points, marking a 15-point difference in his lead on Cruz from the last poll Fox released two weeks ago.
This change does not necessarily mean Trump is doing much better than Cruz, as the Washington Post noted because the voter pool changed significantly between the two polls. The latest poll includes more voters who say they will “probably” participate in the caucuses whereas the previous poll included more people who said they would “definitely caucus.” Trump’s supporters are often people who have not been politically involved in recent years, so it’s tough to if they will turn out on Feb. 1. In the meantime, he is likely to continue using his campaign events to create spectacles, and both ejecting protesters and criticizing Cruz are ways to do that.