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Sanders says Trump lying about protest plot

A Bernie Sanders supporter was ushered out by police during Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign rally at the Savannah Center in Cincinnati on Sunday.
A Bernie Sanders supporter was ushered out by police during Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign rally at the Savannah Center in Cincinnati on Sunday.John Sommers II/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Sunday that Republican Donald Trump is lying when he says the Sanders campaign sent the protesters that disrupted the businessman’s rally in Chicago.

Sanders said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week’’ that anyone following Trump’s campaign ‘‘knows that he tells the truth very, rarely’’ and that in this instance, ‘‘He’s lying again.’’

Friday night’s melee between Trump supporters and protesters broke out after the Trump campaign canceled a rally because of security concerns.

Some of the protesters in the crowd were carrying signs supporting the Sanders campaign.

Trump on Sunday tweeted that if Sanders is sending supporters to his rallies to disrupt them, Trump would do the same at Sanders’ rallies.

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“Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!’’ he wrote.

The answer followed from Sanders’ official Twitter account: ‘‘Send them. They deserve to see what a real honest politician sounds like.’’

Sanders has said Trump’s own words and tactics were responsible for the disruptions.

Both Sanders and Trump have roused their supporters by railing against international trade agreements and decades of wage stagnation. But Sanders, along with Trump’s Republican rivals, have noted that Trump adds caustic rhetoric about immigration, drawing protesters who end up clashing with his supporters

On CNN’s “State of the Union’’ on Sunday, Sanders said that Trump “is a man who keeps implying violence — and then you end up getting what you see.”

Also on Sunday, the Vermont senator released a new policy plan to combat HIV/AIDS, pledging ‘‘virtually universal access’’ to drugs treating the disease.

He also pledged to create a $3-billion-a-year prize fund to incentivize drug development and increase federal funding to double the number of people on HIV treatment worldwide by 2020.

The disease is ‘‘one of the great moral issues of our day,’’ Sanders said in a statement. America must act to ‘‘end the greed of the pharmaceutical companies.’’

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Sanders’ plan was issued a day after rival Hillary Clinton apologized for remarks crediting Nancy Reagan with taking early action to stop the spread of aids. Those comments outraged activists who said the Reagan administration lagged in taking action as the illness ravaged the gay community.

Sanders and Clinton met at a town hall forum in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday night.

While Clinton’s campaign is trying to direct its attention to Trump and the general election, Tuesday’s primary contests in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois look tighter than they did just days ago. That is forcing the campaign to keep focus on the primary race despite a sizable advantage among the delegates that determine the nomination.

While Clinton aides say there’s little they will do to push Sanders out of the primary race, they are showing signs of impatience with the increasingly negative nature of his campaign.

‘‘We would like to wrap it up as soon as possible,’’ said communications director Jen Palmieiri, just hours before Sanders won the Michigan primary. ‘‘You don’t want to let them have a head start on the general.’’

Clinton and her allies had hoped to switch much of their focus to the general election after Tuesday’s primary contests, a plan thrown into doubt after her loss in Michigan last week.

Democratic strategists wanted to use the spring to settle on early lines of attack against Trump, who has successfully deflected nearly all Republican efforts to undermine his candidacy. And top donors had expected the campaign to begin raising money for the general election beginning in April, a transition they now say has been pushed off.

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Wins on Tuesday would give Sanders fresh momentum in the contest, granting him months to continue criticizing Clinton’s positions on issues that Republican front-runner Donald Trump wants to put front and center in the general election.

Some Clinton allies worry that messages from the Sanders campaign — demands that Clinton release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street banks, her past support for trade deals, and his argument that most Washington politicians are bought and paid for by campaign contributions — could aid Trump in the general election.

Sanders and his supporters are also making a similar case against Clinton backers with ties to Wall Street, expanding his critique to a broader swath of the party.

At a Saturday press conference in Chicago, Sanders charged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton ally, with being ‘‘indebted to Wall Street and big-money interests.’’