Trump Refuses to Back Down From Clinton Second Amendment Comments
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump says the media is creating a controversy after Hillary Clinton’s campaign and pundits accused him of calling for the Democratic presidential nominee’s assassination.
In a speech yesterday (transcript here), Trump said that Clinton “wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day. If — if Hillary gets to put her judges — right now, we’re tied. You see what’s going on.”
Pundits across the political spectrum immediately accused Trump of calling for Clinton’s assassination, including former George Bush staffer Dana Perino and others at Fox News. The Clinton campaign issued a statement through spokesman Robby Mook, who said, “what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said, “I think it was just revealing … and I don’t find the attempt to roll it back persuasive at all.”
Priorities USA, a liberal Super PAC, declared that Trump “suggested that someone shoot Hillary Clinton,” and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”
But Trump didn’t back down. Instead, his campaign said Trump was calling for “the power of unification,” according to spokesperson Jason Miller. “2nd 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.”
The statement was entitled, “Trump Campaign Statement on Dishonest Media,” foreshadowing what became a talking point for Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said, “Nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said … There can be no other interpretation!” He called the media “dishonest” for reporting his comments as a call for assassination of Clinton.
Hannity had said Trump was “obviously” talking about voter mobilization.
Pence told a Pennsylvania program on Tuesday that “Hillary Clinton’s made it very clear that she wants to see changes in the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.” He said that “[What] Donald Trump is clearly saying is that people who cherish that right, people who believe that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens make our communities more safe not less safe, should be involved in the political process and let their voice be heard.”
Later in the day, Pence accused the media of focusing on Trump and taking attention away from Clinton. “The media stays focused on our side of the aisle,” he said. “It’s almost as though the Steelers had to play an entire season at away games, in front of hostile crowds, with hometown refs. But they’d still win, wouldn’t they?”
“It’s 2-on-1 with the media doing most of Hillary’s work for her and Donald Trump is still winning for the American people,” he said. “The man just doesn’t quit.”
Pence noted that the assassination accusations came at the same time as another burgeoning Clinton controversy: the father of Orlando Pulse shooter Omar Mateen was seen at a Clinton rally. The admitted Taliban supporter who believes homosexuality is sinful told media afterwards that he is supporting Clinton as President.
The Clinton campaign said it was unaware of Seddique Mateen’s presence at the 30,000-person public event, and a spokesperson later said in a statement that Clinton “disagrees with his views and disavows his support.”
Hannity, Pence and Trump were not entirely alone in defending the GOP nominee. The National Rifle Association launched a three million dollar ad buy in favor of Trump yesterday, and a Republican House Congressional candidate said CNN’s Don Lemon was taking Trump’s words out of context. Even conservative columnist Katie Pavlich, a fierce Trump critic, defended his remarks.
Ironically, it was Clinton who eight years ago was accused of inciting an assassination against then-Senator Barack Obama. Asked why she was still in the race in late May, despite losing to Obama in their head-to-head primary, she cited two historical examples of candidates whose fortunes changed during the summer – including one who was assassinated.
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?” Clinton said. “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”
Clinton quickly apologized for the Kennedy remark, blaming it on a cancer diagnosis of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) that took place several days earlier.