Clinton Strategist Refutes Claims Democrats Are Responsible for Violence at Trump Rallies

Joel Benenson said Donald Trump's rhetoric is to blame for rally violence.

ByABC News
October 23, 2016, 11:11 AM

— -- Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster refuted claims that Democrats are responsible for inciting violence at Donald Trump's campaign rallies, saying the blame lays squarely on the rhetoric of the GOP candidate.

“Donald Trump, day after day, on the stump, was inciting people,” Joel Benenson told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” "We have video of Donald Trump saying, 'punch him in the mouth. I want him carried out on a stretcher.'”

Over the past week, Trump frequently referred to a secretly recorded video recently released by conservative activist James O'Keefe's Project Veritas Action. The video appears to show a Democratic operative bragging about deploying troublemakers at Trump rallies.

Benenson confirmed to Stephanopoulos that two Democratic operatives associated with the video have resigned.

He also said he is "pretty confident" that there are not any others engaged in such activities.

Referring to O'Keefe, the Clinton campaign strategist said, "We're talking about a guy who has a track record of doctoring videos."

Benenson added that if the Trump campaign wants to talk about O'Keefe instead of the Republican candidate, "it's showing a sign of desperation" in the last weeks before the election.

A new ABC News tracking poll shows Clinton opening up a double-digit lead over Trump, but Benenson said "I don't think it's over until the people vote."

He added that Clinton "is the only candidate in this race who's been talking to people beyond their base."

Democrats have a stronger base of support than the GOP, he said. "But she's been reaching out to Republicans, independents, moderate voters.”

Asked about the campaign's directing resources toward some states that tend to vote Republican, Benenson said they are making such decisions "almost day by day."

“You want to make sure you solidify in the states that you have and reach out where you can,” he said.

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