Bill Clinton Talks Trump Protests with Nelson Mandela Story

VIDEO: Bill Clinton Talks Trump Protests with Nelson Mandela StoryPlayABCNews.com
WATCH Bill Clinton Talks Trump Protests with Nelson Mandela Story

Today in Akron, Ohio, President Bill Clinton waded into his campaign speech with a nod to last night’s protests in Chicago, which shut down a planned Donald Trump rally.

“Forget about Donald Trump,” said the former president. “Every single day of our lives if we are not careful, we give away just a little smidgen of our mind and our heart when we look down on other people, feel hostile, think that our differences are more important than our common humanity.”

WHAT TO KNOW
  • Today in Akron, Ohio, President Bill Clinton waded into his campaign speech with a nod at last night’s protests in Chicago, which shut down a planned Donald Trump rally.

Clinton began his speech cautioning the intimate crowd of Ohio voters that this is a “profoundly important” election cycle. The president continued, “And last night I’ve been trying to think of what to say about all that pushing and shoving and near violence and who is responsible.”

After a brief pause, rather than casting blame on a particular group or individual, the president made his case by sharing a story about his longtime friend, the late Nelson Mandela.

Clinton recalled commending Mandela for inviting the political party that jailed him to his presidential inauguration. But according to Clinton, he wondered if Mandela still hated those who imprisoned him.

“But now tell me the truth,” recalled Clinton. “When they let you out finally didn't you hate them all over again?”

According to Clinton, Mandela initially hated his jailers, but then told the president he had an epiphany.

According to Clinton, Mandela said, “I realized they could take everything from me except my mind and my heart. Those things I would have to give away. And I decided not to give them away. And then he looked at me and said ‘neither should you’.”

President Clinton then pointed at the crowd, “Neither should you.”

The president’s parable yielded several “Amens” and applause from the attentive crowd.

President Clinton’s response to last night’s protests is among the growing number of reactions from both Democrats and Republicans.