So much for focusing on the economy.
Donald Trump, who had planned to follow upMonday’s major economic address with a series of events this week highlighting the jobs issue, now finds himself under attack over another off-the-cuff comment — this one seen by many as a threat against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton (or possibly federal judges).
After claiming that Clinton’s goal is ending Second Amendment gun rights, Trump told supporters in North Carolina on Tuesday: “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 and allies accused Democrats and the media of distorting his remarks, saying he was referring to the power of the vote. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said “there’s tremendous political power to save the Second Amendment,” and “obviously” that was what he was referring to in North Carolina.
However, Clinton and even some Republicans said it sounded like an invitation to violence.
“Yesterday, we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that crossed the line,” Clinton said Wednesday in Des Moines, adding that his “casual inciting of violence” showed that he “does not have the temperament to be president and commander in chief of the United States.”
Amid the political furor, the Secret Service, responsible for protecting presidential candidates, issued a unique statement Tuesday saying it was “aware of the comments” made by Trump.Chris Shays, a former GOP congressman from Connecticut, cited Trump’s comment as he became the latest Republican to endorse Clinton. Shays told MSNBC’sMorning Joe Wednesday, “I’m scared for the life of the president. I’m scared for Hillary Clinton. I’m scared even for Donald Trump.”
Some Republicans, meanwhile, are openly wondering whether they can somehow drop Trump from the top of their ticket.
Joe Scarborough, the Morning Joe host and a former Republican congressman from Florida, said “a bloody line has been crossed,” and the Republicans should find a way to dump Trump.
Citing past controversial statements the candidate has made, Scarborough wrote inThe Washington Post that “at long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.”
Trump himself made a veiled reference to the flap during a rally Wednesday in Abingdon, Va., protesting media coverage and drawing loud applause by telling the crowd that “the Second Amendment is under siege” from Clinton and other politicians.
Sticking mostly to the economy — his planned theme for the week — Trump vowed to protect the local coal industry in southwestern Virginia. As supporters waved yellow and black signs saying “Trump Digs Coal,” the candidate said: “We are going to put the miners back to work,” and that Clinton’s environmental policies would shut down energy companies.
During another rally Wednesday near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Trump again bashed media coverage of his Second Amendment remarks: “Look at the way they covered that story yesterday — that was disgusting.”
On social media, Trump said he was referring to the voting power of Second Amendment supporters in his comments Tuesday.
This is not the first time a stray comment has diverted the course of Trump’s campaigning, spoiling what some describe as his efforts to “pivot” from a slam-bang Republican primary campaign to the fall general election.
Coming off the Republican convention last month, Trump found himself on the defensive over his dismissive comments about a Muslim Gold Star family who had criticized him during the Democratic convention. Earlier in the summer, Trump was criticized for questioning a federal judge’s ability to be impartial in presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University due to his “Mexican heritage.”
Trump allies said he is being held to a different standard and that the media is echoing Democratic talking points.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a Trump supporter, told MSNBC that “at best it was complex and he shouldn’t have said it,” but he disputed the idea that the candidate was advocating violence against Clinton or anyone else.
Saying that people are reading too much into the comment, King said, “Are you saying he was negligent in saying it? Absolutely. He should take it back.”
Critics pointed out that Trump has appeared to condone violence in the past; he once said he would like to punch a protester in the face, and he jokingly offered to pay the legal fees of a North Carolina man who did indeed punch a protester. In recent weeks, Trump has said he fears the general election will be “rigged” against him.
Trump supporters, meanwhile, say they like his aggressive tell-it-like-is style.
Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican consultant, said at best the latest flap will cost Trump several days of cleanup, distracting from efforts to focus on Clinton’s record, including new revelations about her private email use.
Mackowiak said the Second Amendment comments sounded to him like a poor joke from Trump, “and he should have already apologized.”
Republican consultant Bruce Haynes, founding partner of Washington-based Purple Strategies, called it “the curse of the undisciplined candidate.”
Trump “is running against a fatally flawed candidate, but can’t operate in a way that keeps the focus on her,” Haynes said. “We are 90 precious days away from the election and with early voting in many places, every lost day counts.”
Liz Mair, a Republican consultant who has been critical of Trump, said the candidate is damaging himself and the party, perhaps for years to come.
“Honestly, about 50% of the time now, I find myself seriously thinking Trump’s whole candidacy is a clever Bill Clinton plot to put Hillary in the White House irrespective of how unelectable she is and destroy the GOP for a generation,” Mair said.
[Source:- USA Today]