Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) lambasted primary frontrunner Donald Trump on Sunday for not showing real leadership, suggesting a true leader does more than go about “making people even angrier.”
Rubio also said Trump is damaging the conservative movement by only being negative and turning the campaign into a “circus” in which candidates cannot debate substantive policy issues.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Rubio went after Trump for being negative and capitalizing on voters’ anger and not illustrating ways to address their frustration.
“I know people are angry. I know people are frustrated,” Rubio said. “But leadership is not about making people even angrier and even more frustrated, and asking them to give you power so you can go after another group of people that you want to blame for other peoples’ anger and frustration.”
“Real leadership,” he continued, “is recognizing that people are angry, recognizing people are frustrated, and then showing them a way forward that gives them hope and a belief that we can make things better. That’s real leadership.”
Rubio added that Trump is not offering that kind of leadership but has instead turned “an important [election] from a generational perspective” into “a real circus, and now it’s turned into something even worse.”
Rubio was in part referring to the violence that has repeatedly broken out in Trump campaign rallies over the past few days.
Trump had to cancel a rally on Friday night in Chicago because it deteriorated into a chaotic situation when protestors who appeared to be supports of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) clashed with other attendees at the event, leading to several fistfights.
This incident followed at least 32 people being arrested earlier that same day at another Trump event in St. Louis.
Trump has come under fire for suggesting on multiple occasions that his supporters hurt protestors at his events while promising to pay for any of their resultant legal fees, causing some fellow GOP rivals to say the real estate mogul is largely responsible for these escalations.
Rubio did not definitively say during the interview whether he would ultimately support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee, but he did lament that “it’s getting harder every day [to do so]” because Trump is tarnishing conservatism in America.
“While I do not want Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States–I want her to be defeated–I think we’re having a battle to define conservatism in the Republican Party,” Rubio said. “I do not want the Republican Party or the conservative movement to be defined by what I’m seeing out of Donald Trump’s campaign.”
Rubio then cautioned that Trump is, in his view, not only damaging the GOP but the United States as a whole.
“If we’ve reached the point where we can’t debate the proper tax rate or healthcare policy, our differences in foreign policy, what the government’s role should be in education, without resorting to ‘you’re a bad person; you’re an evil person; I can say or do anything I want because I’m angry,’ we’re going to lose our republic,” Rubio said. “And we’re most certainly going to lose our ability to solve problems.”