Speaking at a rally in North Carolina this afternoon, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared to suggest that if Democrat Hillary Clinton were elected president, his supporters’ only recourse to prevent her from appointing judges would be some sort of armed response by “Second Amendment people.”
The suggestion that people use firearms to prevent Clinton from filling seats on federal courts came in what appeared to be an off-the-cuff aside, seemingly meant as a joke. However, Trump’s willingness to even suggest such a thing opened the floodgates of anger on social media among many people who interpreted his remarks as being about the assassination of a US president or, perhaps, of a Supreme Court Justice.
His precise words were: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Trump had just been discussing his oft-repeated claim that Clinton would appoint judges who would “essentially abolish” the right to bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment, leaving some of his supporters room to argue that he was talking about the lobbying power behind gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, not actual gun-toting citizens.
However, Democratic groups were not inclined toward a charitable reading of Trump’s words. Priorities USA, a political action committee supporting Clinton quickly sent out a blast email with the subject line, “Donald Trump Just Suggested That Someone Shoot Hillary Clinton.”
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement, “This is simple -- what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller, in an email to reporters with the subject line “Trump campaign statement on dishonest media” sought to tamp down what appears to be the latest in a long string of statements by the candidate that have taken over media cycles.
“It’s called the power of unification,” Miller wrote. “Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”