RALEIGH, N.C. — Donald Trump’s polarizing candidacy makes him an expected target for protesters. But a parade of 10 separate agitators interrupting the Republican presidential candidate on the stump in North Carolina Friday night might be a new record even for him.
And his throngs of supporters were none too pleased.
The first interruption came mere minutes into Trump’s remarks to a full house of nearly 8,000, and they continued periodically until Trump’s abrupt exit from the stage.
Some held signs — “Stop the Hate, We Make America Great” and “Dump Trump” — while others chanted "Black Lives Matter.”
As law enforcement sought to remove the demonstrators, some Trump supporters tried to cover them with coats or signs. When the last protesters made themselves known, attendees began shoving them.
Trump, on the other hand, paid little lip service to the interruptions. But as they became more frequent, he used the opportunity to make a statement about a divided America, and why he’s the man to mend things.
“Look at what happens. Our country is so divided. There’s hatred between people. We want to bring it together," Trump said.
The candidate, whose usual bellow was replaced by a rasp that sounded like the start of a cold, ended his rally-turned-town-hall suddenly and earlier than usual. The full event lasted less than an hour, a rarity for a candidate who usually stumps for at least an hour and who spoke and took questions for almost two hours a few nights earlier in Manassas, Virginia.
But protesters weren’t the only crowd goers to elicit reaction from Trump. When a 12-year-old girl told Trump she was “scared” about the state of our country, he told her that once he’s in the White House “you’re not going to be scared anymore. They’re going to be scared.”
“Just so you understand,” Trump explained, "when the World Trade Center was knocked down, the people, the animals that did that, they sent their wives and their families back to Saudi Arabia. Most went back to Saudi. Those wives knew what their husbands were going to do. We never went after them, we never did anything. We have to attack much stronger.”
Asked for clarification after the event, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told NBC News that, yes,Trump would have advocated for going after 9/11 attackers' family members. The candidate previously told NBC’s Katy Tur that family members of terrorists, specifically ISIS, are “not so innocent.”
Trump also weighed in on the the San Bernardino shooting rampage that killed 14 people and wounded 21 others. FBI Director James Comey said Friday that investigations turned up evidence the killers were radicalized but "no indication that they are part of a network.”
Trump’s prescription for such attacks — similar to rival candidates like Ted Cruz — greater access to guns.
“It was a terrorist attack,” Trump said. While promising to handle situations such as this “so tough,” he also noted that “if you had a couple of folks in there with guns, that knew how to use them, and they were in that room, you wouldn’t have dead people. The dead people would be the other guys.”
The shooters in Wednesday's attack who were both killed in a shootout with law enforcement, left behind a 6-month old daughter as well as siblings, in-laws and parents. Investigators have not implicated any of the shooters' family members in the attacks.
Trump, however, told CBS News Friday evening in an interview that he doesn’t believe gunman Syed Farook’s sister is innocent and that he would go after her. "I would go after a lot of people and find out whether or not they knew. I'd be able to find out. Cause I don't believe the sister," he said.