Donald Trump said Wednesday he is "not proud" that children are mimicking his rhetoric.
"There have been incidents of children, of white children, pointing to their darker-skinned classmates and saying, ‘You’ll be deported when Donald Trump is president.’ There have been incidents of white kids at basketball games holding up signs to teams which have Hispanic kids on them, saying, ‘We’re going to build a wall to keep you out.’ Are you proud of that? Is that something you’ve done in American political and social discourse that you’re proud of?” NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts asked Trump on "Morning Joe."
Roberts' question was prompted by reports from around the country that the language Trump has used on the campaign trail is being repeated by youth.
A Virginia school district confirmed a story about a third grader being told by his classmates that he would be deported if Trump became president. The child's mother took to Facebook to voice her disgust, writing, "I just got a call from my son's teacher… that two of his classmates… point(ed) out the 'immigrants' in the class who would be sent 'home' when Trump becomes President... They singled him out… because of the color of his skin... In third grade…. in Fairfax County... in 2016.”
A high school basketball game in Indiana took a controversial turn after spectators allegedly chanted statements that were taken as racist toward Latinos. A report said that fans of one team had big placards with Donald Trump's face and were yelling, "Build a wall, build a wall."
The business mogul's name was also invoked during an Iowa basketball game to allegedly taunt a team that included boys from racial minorities. According to a report, fans of the opposing team chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!" to rile the players.
Trump took issue with Roberts' inquiry and insisted he did not have knowledge of these incidents. He also maintained that his rhetoric on deportation was directed toward illegal immigration.
“I think your question’s a very nasty question," Trump said. "And I’m not proud of it because I didn’t even hear of it, OK? And I certainly do not like it at all when I hear about it. You’re the first one who's told me about that.”
“I talk about deporting people that are here illegally," Trump said of his immigration platform. "We have a country or we don’t.”
"But what about the children, Mr. Trump?" Roberts asked. Trump defended his message, calling it "very positive." The Republican front-runner went on to say that he thought the United States needed to be made great again.
“I think America is right now very, very troubled. I think we’re being laughed at all over the world.”
Referencing the military, Trump said that “we can’t beat ISIS” and that veterans are being treated poorly. Trump also pointed to health care and debt after saying that the U.S. education system “is at the bottom of the heap worldwide.”
“I think we have a lot of problems,” he told Roberts.