Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump had quite the eventful weekend between suggesting that a protester at one of his rally deserved to be "roughed up" and endorsing waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques in the fight against the Islamic State (Isis). After making the controversial comments in two separate interviews on 22 November, Trump retweeted a supporters statistic that claimed blacks killed by other blacks represented 97% of murders of black people in the US.
In an early morning interview on Fox News, Trump said that well-known Black Lives Matter activist Mercurio Southall Jr was "so obnoxious and so loud" during his Bermingham, Alabama rally that "maybe he should have been roughed up." Southall interrupted Trump mid rally and was heard shouting, "Black lives matter!" before a fight broke out. According to The Washington Post, Trump paused his remarks to demand Southall's removal.
Video footage captured by CNN reportedly shows Southall falling to the ground and being kicked and punched by a group of white men. At one point, a Washington Post reporter witnessed as one of the men put his hands on Southall's neck. As he was escorted out by security, the crowd alternated between booing and cheering.
"Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing," Trump said. "I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble."
Later, Trump spoke on ABC's This Week and said that if he were elected he would bring back waterboarding as an interrogation technique for suspected terrorists. "I would bring it back, yes. I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they'd do to us," he said. "We have to be strong. You know, they don't use waterboarding over there; they use chopping off people's heads."
Trump also used the interview to attempt to clarify his comments about wanting to implement a database of Muslims in the US. The bombastic candidate said that he would instead implement "surveillance" of people coming into the country. "When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don't know if they're Isis, we don't know if it's a Trojan horse," he said.
The real estate mogul told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he wants to monitor mosques, saying, "There are certain hot spots, and everybody knows (the mosques) are hot spots." Despite a series of controversial comments, Trump has regained the top spot among the GOP's presidential candidates in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Trump earned 32%, surpassing retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson by ten percentage points.