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Trump again slams 'Hamilton'; Pence says he wasn't offended

November 20, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump, in the midst of choosing his Cabinet, took time out Sunday for a second day to criticize the cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" and demand an apology for a message an actor delivered from the stage to Trump's running mate about the need for diversity in America. But Vice President-elect Mike Pence said he wasn't offended by the message.

Pence said on "Fox News Sunday" that he heard the boos and cheers when he walked into the Richard Rodgers Theatre with his nephew and daughter on Friday night to see the show. He said he told his daughter: "That's what freedom sounds like."

Trump had a different take on the message from cast member Brandon Victor Dixon, who had expressed his concerns in a prepared speech after the curtain call about the incoming Republican administration.

"We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," said Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation's third vice president, as his fellow actors joined hands. "We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

Trump tweeted Saturday that Pence had been "harassed" by the cast. He called them "very rude" and demanded they apologize. On Sunday, while awaiting a second day of meetings as he works to vet potential candidates for his administration, he repeated his order for an apology—and added a dig at the critically acclaimed show, which is sold out until September.

"The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior," he tweeted.

But Pence told Fox News that "Hamilton" was an "incredible production" involving a very talented cast. On whether he thought an apology was necessary, he said: "I'll leave it to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

When prompted by Trump for an apology, Dixon responded on Twitter that "conversation is not harassment sir" and added that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen.

Reaction to the debacle was mixed, with some calling Dixon's speech "disrespectful" and threatening to boycott the show and others saying it was an important message that needed to be delivered.

The musical is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the story, music and lyrics. It stresses the orphan, immigrant roots of first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and has a terrifically varied score, ranging from pop ballads to gospel to sexy R&B. It has been cheered for reclaiming the nation's founding story with a multicultural cast.

Miranda, in a tweet, said he was "proud" of Dixon and the "Hamilton" cast "for leading with love," before reminding people that everyone is welcome at the theater.

Miranda had been a big booster for the failed presidential campaign of Trump's opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, including performing at an all-star fundraiser for her last month. The cast also put on a special "Hamilton" show at a Clinton fundraiser last summer.

“We, sir—we—are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” Dixon said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Pence had been seated in the center-orchestra section of the theater, according to the New York Times, and had appeared to enjoy the show.

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, west of New York City, added in a second tweet, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

Also criticizing the cast’s statement on Saturday was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a supporter of Trump’s. “The arrogance and hostility of the Hamilton cast to the vice president-elect (a guest at the theater) is a reminder the left still fights," Gingrich wrote on Twitter.

Trump also addressed his decision Friday to pay $25 million to settled claims that his defunct Trump University cheated students with false promises of teaching them his real estate secrets. In settling, Trump avoided a potentially distracting trial that was set to start in 10 days.

“I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as president I have to focus on our country,” the president-elect said on Twitter.

“The ONLY bad thing about winning the presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”

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