Protests outside a Donald Trump rally in downtown San Jose spun out of control Thursday night when some demonstrators attacked the candidate’s supporters.
Protesters jumped on cars, pelted Trump supporters with eggs and water balloons, snatched signs, and stole “Make America Great” hats off supporters’ heads before burning them and snapping selfies with the charred remains....
In one incident captured on camera, a Trump supporter was struck hard over the side of the head as he was walking away from a group of protesters. The attack left him with blood streaming down his head and onto his shirt....
Watch: The moment a Trump supporter, surrounded by protesters, is egged in the face, hit by other food. pic.twitter.com/qYFdwJWvrS— Jacob Rascon (@Jacobnbc) June 3, 2016
I called 911 but no one answered. Donald trump protest in San Jose, CA pic.twitter.com/LwaWyeYZfq— Marcus DiPaola (@marcusdipaola) June 3, 2016
This is just wrong. It needs to stop.
And yet I don't believe it's going to lead to a backlash that elects Trump. I've said before that if you're thinking 1968, you should remember that the violence in Chicago was targeted at Hubert Humphrey, not the eventual winner, Richard Nixon. But there are other reasons I don't think violence at Trump rallies will help Trump.
First of all, this isn't 1968. Violent unrest isn't happening everywhere. Right now, it seems to be happening only at Trump rallies. The average middle-of-the-road voter doesn't think this is a widespread societal problem right now. It seems more like a Trump problem. Maybe swing voters think it's an anti-Trump problem -- but it's somehing that's following him around, and not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And he's been known to encourage violence. Voters don't even like angry non-violent partisanship in D.C. They want someone who'll make all the turbulence go away. But where Trump goes, turbulence follows. I don't think that helps him.
And here's another problem for Trump: He says he's the guy who can get all our worst problems under control -- so why can't he control the perimeter at his own rallies? In fact, the unrest in San Jose seemed to be made worse by utterly inept policing:
Marcus DiPaola, a freelance photographer following the Trump campaign, posted video of someone getting punched violently in the face....But if crowds get out of control where Trump goes, doesn't that make him seem less like a can-do macho man? How can he stand up to ISIS if he can't control a few thugs outside his own rallies?
DiPaola said he called 911 but was put on hold and so hung up. He said he told one police officer about the beating but was told SJPD “didn’t have the man power” to intervene.
“Morons,” he said. “How do you not staff 911 for an event of this size?”
DiPaola wasn’t the only journalist to condemn the cops’ handling of the protest....
BREAKING: The police in San Jose have appeared to lost control. Trump supporters being terrorized and beaten up by mobs of protestors.— Tom Llamas (@TomLlamasABC) June 3, 2016
And Trump's temperament makes it a lot harder for him to use violent protesters as foils than it was for "law and order" Republicans of the past. Richard Nixon had a criminal soul, but he exuded an air of moral rectitude. He came off as self-denying, not self-indulgent. His message to voters was, in effect, You and I, we get up in the morning, go to work, and try to do the right thing, and here are all these snot-nosed kids running around doing whatever they damn please.
But Trump is someone we believe does whatever he damn pleases. That extends to his rallies. There's an air of license in Trump World. There's an air of license when Trump fires up Twitter, or even when he debates.
If you're a swing voter watching that from the outside, Trump seems to exude the same chaos that seen outside his rallies. So why would you trust him to keep America on an even keel?