‘Welcome home Ilhan’: Huge crowd meets congresswoman Omar at Minnesota airport after Trump ‘send her back’ row

Adam Forrest

Ilhan Omar was greeted with cheers and “welcome home Ilhan” chants when she flew into her home state of Minnesota – a sharp contrast to the “send her back” shouts aimed at her at Donald Trump’s latest rally.

Dozens of supporters greeted her at Minneapolis airport following an extraordinary week in which the president targeted her and three other Democratic congresswomen of colour in his now-notorious “go back” tweets.

Ms Omar also received a standing ovation at an event on healthcare in Minneapolis on Thursday night, telling the packed crowd: “I know there are a lot of people that are trying to distract us now. But I want you all to know that we are not going to let them.”

The Democratic congresswoman called Mr Trump a “fascist” an impromptu press conference earlier on Thursday. “This is what this president and his supporters have turned our country into,” Ms Omar said of the racist chants.

“He’s spewing his fascist ideology on stage, telling US citizens to go back because they don’t agree with his detrimental policies for our country,” she added.

Facing flak from Republicans on Thursday, Mr Trump tried to distance himself from his supporters’ cries at the North Carolina rally, saying “I felt a little bit bad about it”.

He also claimed he had tried to stop the chanting on Wednesday night, despite video showing the crowd’s shouts resounded for 13 seconds as Mr Trump made no attempt to interrupt them.

Asked why he failed to intervene, he said “I started speaking really quickly … I was not happy with it,” before saying he “would certainly try” to stop any similar chant at a future rally.

As of Thursday, more than 40 of the 250 Republicans in Congress had criticised Mr Trump over his attacks on the congresswomen.

Senator Mitt Romney, asked about the “send her back” chant, said, “It’s very unfortunate for our country ... And I’m glad the president has spoken out against it.”

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy of California declared that the chant has “no place in our party and no place in this country”.

Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted that it was “ugly, wrong, & would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or we risk our great union”.

And Mark Walker of North Carolina – a conservative who attended Mr Trump’s rally – was more circumspect, despite calling the chant “offensive”.

Suggesting his objections were more strategic, he told reporters that the “send her back” slogan “does not need to be our campaign call like we did ‘Lock her up’ last time”.