Donald Trump’s campaign said he was talking about voting when he told a North Carolina campaign rally that the “Second Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices.
But Hillary’s campaign said the GOP nominee was being “dangerous” and nudging supporters toward violence.
Trump was talking about energy bills at the Wilmington, N.C., event when he steered toward gun rights.
“Hillary wants to shut down energy production. I want to expand it. Lower electric — lower electric bills, folks. Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick…if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is,” Trump said. “I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day. If Hillary gets to put her judges — right now, we’re tied. You see what’s going on.”
The Secret Service, which is protecting Trump as a nominee, tweeted:
The Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon.
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) August 9, 2016
“This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said. “A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
Trump senior communications advisor Jason Miller issued a statement on behalf of the campaign: “It’s called the power of unification – 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.”
Trump tweeted: “Media desperate to distract from Clinton’s anti-2A stance. I said pro-2A citizens must organize and get out vote to save our Constitution!”
Hillary tweeted video of her campaign commercial showing children watching Trump clips, with the note: “Our kids are watching, Donald.”
Clinton also retweeted former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head at a 2011 event in her district and has since become a gun-control advocate. “Donald Trump might astound Americans on a routine basis, but we must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence,” Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, said in a statement. “Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.”
“What political leaders say matters to their followers,” the couple added. “When candidates descend into coarseness and insult, our politics follow suit. When they affirm violence, we should fear that violence will follow.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the staunchest gun-control advocates in Congress, tweeted, “Was @realDonaldTrump suggesting his supporters shoot Hillary? Shoot her nominee? Who knows. It’s all so disgusting and embarrassing and sad.”
“This isn’t play. Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump,” Murphy continued. “Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”
But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a Trump supporter, said the GOP nominee “has no intention of suggesting violence against Hillary Clinton — I just don’t believe that’s possible.”
“I just don’t believe this is a serious statement of any kind that should impact this election. I think he should continue to talk about what I think he clearly meant, which was that the Second Amendment is under great threat from Hillary Clinton’s appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no doubt about that. It will eviscerate the strength of the Second Amendment if the court reverses it’s 5-4 ruling with Justice Scalia, a fifth vote, which would be reversed if Hillary Clinton appoints another justice,” Sessions told CNN, acknowledging “it may have been awkwardly phrased, but he talks aggressively to the people, and I think that’s healthy.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told MSNBC he’s “known guys like this who make a remark.”
“I’m willing to accept what he said that he meant the Second Amendment people like to mobilize support. But again, do you really think that he was urging people to kill Hillary Clinton? Do you really believe that?” King said.
“No, I think he was just saying a dumb remark. Was simple as that. Btu again, to suggest that is, I think you’re reading far too much into it. Are you saying he was negligent in saying it? Absolutely. He should take it back, make it clear he’s taking it back.”