Trump hitting at Clinton for allowing Seddique Mateen into her rally while Mark Foley sits behind him. pic.twitter.com/tSgJaZ8A6v
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 11, 2016
Donald Trump on Wednesday lambasted Hillary Clinton for allowing the father of the Orlando nightclub shooter to sit behind her at a campaign event, while a disgraced former congressman sat behind him.
“When you get those seats, you sort of know the campaign. You sort of know the campaign,” Trump said, turning to the crowd behind him. “How many of you people know me?”
Former Florida Rep Mark. Foley, who resigned in 2006 after he sent sexually explicit text messages to teenage pages, raised his hand.
“A lot of you know me,” Trump said.
Twitter users seized on the irony.
“A certain campaign made a big deal about how campaigns must vet everyone who attends events,” tweeted Florida Democratic strategist Eric Jotkoff. “… And then let in an alleged pedophile. Sad!”
A certain campaign made a big deal about how campaigns must vet everyone who attends events… And then let in an alleged pedophile. Sad!
— Eric Jotkoff (@Eric_Jotkoff) August 11, 2016
Foley is seen just over Trump’s left shoulder in video from the rally in Sunshine, Florida, nearly the same position that Seddique Mir Mateen had taken at Clinton’s rally in Kissimmee, Florida, earlier this week. Mateen’s son, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in June. He was killed by police after a standoff.
Trump told the rally that the seats in Foley’s section were the best in the house.
“The people behind me, they’re all on television,” he said. “They’re going to be famous.”
He added: “Wasn’t it terrible when the father of the animal that killed the wonderful people in Orlando was sitting with a big smile on his face right behind Hillary Clinton?”
Foley told the Florida Sun Sentinel that he arrived hours early to snag a seat where he would almost certainly appear on television, a trick he learned from attending State of the Union addresses in Congress.
He added that he had been friends with Trump for almost 30 years.
“I like the energy,” Foley said. “I’ve been a friend of Mr. Trump’s since 1987. I’ve admired so much of what he’s done. He’s a different breed of leader and a different breed of candidate.”
A report on CNN pointed out that the seats behind Trump where Foley was seated had been marked with signs that read, “RESERVED.”
The Trump campaign has not responded to requests for comment. But a WFOR-TV reporter said that Foley told her that the Trump campaign didn’t know he was there.
— Tania Francois (@SheBreaksNews) August 11, 2016
Clinton’s campaign released a statement Wednesday disavowing Mateen’s support.