Donald Trump suggested at a rally Tuesday afternoon that the “Second Amendment people” could do something about Hillary Clinton choosing judges if she is elected president, a comment some took to mean he was implying violence against the Democratic nominee.
The unscripted comment in North Carolina comes as Trump continues to trail Clinton in the polls…and lose support within his own party.
Donald Trump is trying to suppress the latest controversy that erupted moments after he said this about the right to bear arms 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.”
The comments came as Trump was discussing Clinton’s position on gun control measures, with Trump repeating his frequent claim that Clinton would “essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”
Trump senior communications advisor Jason Miller said in a statement that Trump was referring to the political power of Second Amendment supporters at the ballot box, not to any sort of violence.
On Fox News, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton wants to take your guns away, she wants to leave you unprotected in your home. This is a tremendous political movement. There can be no other interpretation.”
The NRA, which has endorsed Trump, agreed with his explanation.
Many Democrats sided with the Clinton campaign, who called the remarks dangerous.
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a mass shooting, tweeted — “We must draw a line between political speech and suggestions of violence.”
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy tweeted — “Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who easily won his state’s primary Tuesday, also spoke out. “It sounds like just a joke going bad. You should never joke about something like that,” Ryan said.
Trump has been under fire from members of his own party to stick to message.
Tuesday, he took aim at the media — for allegedly ignoring the presence of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s father at one of Clinton’s rallies this week:
“If that were me, this would be a headline all over the world,” Trump said.
The Clinton campaign has since disavowed Mateen’s support and says he was not an invited guest.
(Brian Webb for CBS News)