George Lindell of Phoenix was caught on video at a rally on Saturday night in his Arizona city chanting at the press pen while the rest of the crowd was chanting “U-S-A.” The following morning, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, called his behavior “deplorable” during an interview with CNN.
Lindell told the local media on Monday afternoon that he was pronouncing the “U” with a Latino accent, saying he was doing it to show solidarity with Mexicans.
“In English, we say U. In Spanish, we say ‘joo.’ It is the way we speak the language, that is it,” he told Fox10 Phoenix. “I was speaking up for the Mexican people and I instinctively said U-S-A. OK, I said it in Spanish and it is nothing about the Jews. I love Jews. I love Jews very much.”
Lindell told the Arizona Republic newspaper that he started the chant because he was standing near a group of Hispanics, including children, who initially started chanting but stopped, apparently when they realized they would not fit in because of their accent.
He said he also likes the way “Jew-S-A” sounds, saying it has more “flair.”
The Arizona Republic also reported that after the chant Lindell muttered: “The Jews run the country anyway.” Lindell said that phrase was “just horsing around.”
He also told Fox: “It’s a rally, bro. A rally. You are supposed to have fun.” He also questioned why Latinos would be offended by his put-on accent, calling it “ridiculous.”
Lindell gained short-lived fame in 2011 when he was interviewed on local television after witnessing a car accident. He summed up the experience by saying “Reality hits you hard, bro,” a clip that went viral on YouTube. The phrase ended up on T-shirts and coffee mugs, though Lindell said he did not cash in.