US President Barack Obama has warned White House contenders to avoid raising tensions; a day after a rally by Donald Trump was called off amid clashes. Mr Obama said candidates should not resort to “insults” and “certainly not violence against other Americans”.
Mr Trump, who leads the race for the Republican nomination, cancelled his Chicago rally after fighting broke out between his supporters and protesters.
His rivals and others have accused him of using inflammatory rhetoric. Mr Obama, who will be standing down after November’s presidential election, was speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Dallas on Saturday. He said: “What the folks who are running for office should be focused on is how we can make it even better – not insults and schoolyard taunts and manufacturing facts, not divisiveness along the lines of race and faith.”
The clashes at Mr Trump’s Chicago rally on Friday began more than an hour before the event was due to start, and continued after it was cancelled.
Violent scuffles were sparked by Trump supporters attempting to wrestle flags from protesters. One protester had to be physically removed from the stage.
The clashes continued outside the venue. ‘Tremendous anger’ On Saturday Mr Trump campaigned in Ohio, one of several key states – also including Florida and Ohio – holding primaries on Tuesday.
In Dayton, Ohio, he was briefly surrounded by Secret Service agents on stage after a man tried to breach the security cordon. Mr Trump has taken a strong anti-immigrant stance, promising to build a “great wall” at the border with Mexico. Commenting on relations between Muslims and America earlier this week, he said: “Islam hates us.”
Speaking to Fox News after Friday’s events in Chicago, Mr Trump denied fostering division. “I represent a large group of people that have a lot of anger,” he said. “There is tremendous anger out there on both sides.” Mr Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have both called the incident “sad”. “When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence,” Texas Senator Cruz said, “you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse.”
Mr Rubio and another Republican challenger, John Kasich, suggested they might not rally behind Mr Trump if he wins the nomination. Mr Rubio said it was “getting harder every day” to keep his promise to unite behind the eventual Republican nominee.
Mr Kasich said Mr Trump’s rhetoric “makes it very difficult” to support him. A number of Trump rallies have been interrupted by protesters before. Earlier on Friday, 32 people were arrested after protests at a Trump rally in St Louis, Missouri. In the Democratic race, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is continuing his challenge against frontrunner Hillary Clinton.