Sam Clovis, national campaign co-chair and policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, said during a television appearance Friday that riots are not the same as violence, referencing Trump’s prediction that riots would break out if he does not get the GOP nomination.
The clip can be found on Mediaite’s website.
Clovis made his statements on CNN’s New Day to co-host Alisyn Camerota.
Camerota referenced comments Trump made Wednesday describing how there would be riots and “problems like you’ve never seen before” if he did not receive the Republican nomination because of his high level of voter support.
She then played a clip of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) condemning any statements hinting at violence as “unacceptable” before asking, “What do you think about the idea that [Trump] was suggesting that there would be violence, threatening that there would be violence?”
“I don’t think he said violence; he said riots,” Clovis responded. “And I’m not—”
“Riots are violence by definition,” Camerota interjected.
“Well, I don’t accept that,” Clovis said in response.
Camerota also asked Clovis if he or Trump wanted to clarify the GOP frontrunner’s statements from earlier this week.
“He said he could imagine there could be rioting in the streets and big problems if he were denied somehow the nomination. Does he stand by those remarks? Does he want to clarify those remarks?”
“Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump,” Clovis replied.
Trump has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for violence breaking out at his rallies between protesters and his supporters. The GOP frontrunner had offered to pay the legal fees for supporters who hurt protestors, causing some critics to argue he is promoting violence, a point the Trump campaign denies.
Clovis added that he is likely to be an Iowa delegate at this summer’s Republican convention and threatened to leave the party if the GOP leadership moves toward a contested convention to prevent Trump from getting the nomination.
“If the Republican Party comes into that convention and jimmies with the rules and takes away the will of people, the will of the Republicans and the Democrats and the Independents who voted for Mr. Trump, I will take off my credentials, I will leave the floor of that convention, and I will leave the Republican Party forever,” Clovis said.
Clovis’ comments on violence echo those of former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who said in December 2014 that arson and looting “are not necessarily violence.”
After showing a video of people in Ferguson, Missouri shouting “burn this b***h down” while protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown, Harris-Perry argued that, while “some in Ferguson committed acts of arson, vandalism, and theft and by the next day twelve commercial buildings in the city have been destroyed by fire … arson and looting, while illegal and not things that I support and I think also counterproductive in many ways, are also not necessarily violence.”
MSNBC fired Harris-Perry last month after she publicly fought with the network over election coverage cutting into her airtime.