Republican presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio and John Kasich refused to commit to supporting GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, should he win the party’s nomination.
“I don’t know,” Rubio said when asked whether he could get behind Trump should he manage to secure the nomination. “I still at this moment intend to support the Republican nominee, but… it’s getting harder every day.”
Rubio campaigned on Saturday throughout central Florida, looking to edge out Trump in Tuesday’s primary vote. The Florida Senator must win his home state if his candidacy is to remain viable.
Ohio Governor John Kasich also expressed reservations about supporting Trump, saying his nomination would make it “extremely difficult” to support the Republican ticket in November.
The two GOP contenders blasted Trump for his bombastic rhetoric, saying that the frontrunner was creating an atmosphere of violence.
“We settle our differences in this country at the ballot box, not with guns or bayonets or violence,” Rubio said on Saturday. The senator blamed Trump for inciting the very violence which forced one Trump event to be cancelled on Friday, and disrupted another on Saturday.
“You wonder if we’re headed in a different direction today where we’re no longer capable of having differences of opinion but in fact now protests become a license to take up violence and take on your opponents physically. This is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of bitterness and anger and frustration.”
“I’m also not going to excuse the fact that DT, at his events, has seen an increased amount of violence and aggression against reporters, against the protesters, against the spectators,” Rubio opined. “American politics is turning into the comments section of a blog”.
Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton also slammed Trump on Saturday, blaming the real estate mogul for violent disruptions of two Trump rallies by protesters looking to silence the GOP candidate.
“The ugly, divisive rhetoric we are hearing from Donald Trump and the encouragement of violence and aggression is wrong, and it's dangerous,” Clinton said.
On Friday night, a large Trump rally which was supposed to be held in an auditorium at the University of Illinois at Chicago was cancelled at the last moment after hundreds of rowdy demonstrators clashed with Trump supporters and police. At least five were arrested, with several reports of injuries.
After the cancellation was announced, protesters gathered around the building exits, heckling Trump supporters as they filed out of the auditorium.
On Saturday, another Trump campaign event was disrupted when demonstrators showed up at a Trump rally near Dayton, Ohio. At least one protester charged the podium where Trump was standing, coming within feet of the Republican candidate before Secret Service agents encircled Trump.
Trump was unfazed by the incident, telling the audience that “It’s payback time, it’s payback time.”
The Democratic frontrunner tied the attacks to Trump’s controversial comments and braggadocio that have become trademarks of his campaign.
"If you play with matches, you're going to start a fire you can't control. That's not leadership. That's political arson."
Clinton rejected the New York billionaire’s style as un-presidential, saying that leadership demands clear condemnations of violence and bigotry.
"The test of leadership and citizenship is the opposite," Clinton said. "If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. And if you see a bully, stand up to him."
Ironically, while citing the need for leaders to condemn violence, Clinton in the same breath appeared to justify the violence used against Trump, his supporters, and Chicago police, echoing the same message protesters voiced in Chicago on Friday.