BOISE, Idaho — Donald Trump Jr. says he was being straightforward and not dabbling in “microaggression” when he compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles candy in a tweet earlier this week.

The eldest son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday in Boise, Idaho, that he’s surprised by the reaction because he viewed the post as raising concern about properly vetting people coming to the United States. He said it takes a special type a person to find a message that isn’t there.

Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of a bowl of Skittles with the warning: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?” Monday’s tweet went on: “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

Roughly 20 people holding signs and Skittles protested outside the event in Boise, which has more Syrian refugees than Los Angeles and New York City combined.