Trump ignites firestorm with gun rights remarks
Trump had been trying to rally Republican voters behind him and against Clinton, who is leading in opinion polls
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that gun rights activists could act to stop his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton from nominating liberal US Supreme Court justices, igniting yet another firestorm of criticism just as he sought to steer clear of controversy.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump said at a rally. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” he continued. The US Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear firearms.
Until Trump made the remark, he had been trying to rally Republican voters behind him and against Clinton, who is leading in national opinion polls in the race for the Nov. 8 election. Some in the audience who were seated behind Trump could be seen wincing when he made the comment.
Clinton’s campaign called the remark “dangerous.”
“A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” it said.
When asked to clarify what Trump meant, his campaign said Trump was referring to getting supporters of the Second Amendment to rally votes for Trump in the election.
“It’s called the power of unification – 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” the Trump campaign statement said.
Introducing Trump at a later rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused the news media of taking the remark out of context to help Clinton, a former US secretary of state, get elected.
“What he meant by that (remark) was you have the power to vote against her,” he said to cheers. “You have the power to speak against her. You know why? Because you’re Americans.”
“It proves that most of the press is in the tank for Hillary Clinton,” he added. “They are doing everything they can to destroy Donald Trump.”
The US Secret Service, which provides security details for both Trump and Clinton and rarely comments on political matters, said when asked for a response to Trump: “The Secret Service is aware of the comment.”
By day’s end, Trump was drawing criticism on several fronts, another chapter in a campaign marked by bitterness and partisanship.
Michael Hayden, a former CIA director who on Monday was among 50 Republican national security experts to denounce Trump in a letter, said on CNN, “You’re not just responsible for what you say. You are responsible for what people hear.”
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, a liberal firebrand who loves tweaking Trump, tweeted that Trump “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”
Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway fought back in a tweet of her own, calling Warren a “disgrace.”