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Donald Trump: It’s wrong to beat up protesters, unless of course they’re “bad dudes.”

At tonight’s Republican debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked the presumptive nominee a testy, sadly pertinent question: whether he has in some way encouraged the slew of racially charged assaults at his campaign rallies, the most recent example having occurred Wednesday in North Carolina. 

“I hope not. I truly hope not...I certainly do not condone that at all,” said Trump. He then gave an explanation that sounded very much like he was condoning it, saying of his supporters, They have anger that’s unbelievable. They love this country. They don’t like seeing bad trade deals. They don’t like using their jobs.”

Trump, as Tapper made clear, has repeatedly cheered while his supporters attack unwelcome outsiders, at one point offering to pay the legal fees of anyone willing to “knock the crap” out of a protester. And after making a perfunctory attempt to distance himself from this streak of violence, Trump essentially blamed the protesters, “We have some protesters who are bad dudes... They are swinging, they are really dangerous.... We had a couple big powerful strong guys doing damage to people.”