At a rally today in Wilmington, North Carolina Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton wanted to “essentially abolish” the Second Amendment. “If she gets to pick her judges nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said. Then he added this aside, “Although the Second Amendment people maybe there is, I don’t know.” Here’s the clip:
There are at least two ways to interpret this. Here’s what the left is going with:
Trump Suggests Shooting Clinton, Her Supreme Court Picks, Or Both https://t.co/OgqW8Wm35g
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) August 9, 2016
Some are already envisioning an avalanche of negative media:
This Trump 2A comment really deserves to start an avalanche, and I hope I see it on @nytimes A1 tomorrow. What a disgraceful man.
— Michael Tomasky (@mtomasky) August 9, 2016
Others have pointed to the reaction by a man in the crowd behind Trump as indicating the audience understood what he was suggesting was, at a minimum, unusually harsh language:
Guy behind Trump immediately realized what he said was a problem. https://t.co/F3mSP9GLqt
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) August 9, 2016
There’s also a much more innocent interpretation, which is that Trump was just talking about the power of the NRA. CNN asked Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany to discuss the comment and she said, “I think he’s referring to the fact that the National Rifle Association is the most powerful lobby, hands down, in the United States.” She continued, “So if anyone can stop a very anti-Second Amendment agenda it would be the NRA and the Second Amendment folks.”
Maybe the third option here is that Trump was just making a joke, saying something he didn’t intend to be taken seriously much less parsed for implications. But there’s an old saying in politics that if you’re explaining you’re losing. And that’s the reality here. Trump has just given his opponents online (and on CNN) another easy opening to attack him as unhinged. Whether or not the media runs with this, the Clinton camp can turn this into its next campaign ad, a sequel to the one about him having the nuclear codes.
Update: And here’s the statement from the Clinton campaign via the Hill:
The Clinton campaign responded with a statement, with campaign manager Robby Mook saying: “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.”
The story notes that the Secret Service says it is aware of the comments.