Donald Trump's campaign is once again on damage control, this time over remarks that critics say hinted at Hillary Clinton's assassination. His comment that "Second Amendment people" could "maybe" do something about Clinton picking Supreme Court justices if she wins was widely condemned Tuesday, though he insisted that he had been talking about the "strong, powerful" gun lobby using their political force, not their guns. "There can be no other interpretation," he told Fox News Tuesday night. "I mean, give me a break." A round-up of reactions:
- "The NRA and Donald Trump are calling for Second Amendment supporters to protect their constitutional right to self defense by defeating Hillary Clinton at the ballot box," NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker tells the Guardian, calling the controversy a "distraction created by the dishonest media."
- "Don't treat this as a political misstep. It's an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis," tweeted Connecticut's Sen. Chris Murphy, who is a strong proponent of gun control.
- Paul Ryan, speaking at his victory party in Wisconsin, said he hadn't heard the remarks, Politico reports. "I've been a little busy," he said. "It sounds like a joke gone bad. You should never joke about that. I hope he clears it up quickly."
- Trump "makes death threats because he's a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl," tweeted Elizabeth Warren.
- "Nobody who is seeking a leadership position—especially the presidency, the leadership of the country—should do anything to countenance violence, and that’s what he was saying," said Tim Kaine.
- "It seems like every single day the national press latches on to some other issue about my running mate," said Mike Pence. "But you know what they’re not talking about? Anything having to do with Hillary Clinton."
- The Secret Service tweeted that it "is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon." Former CIA director Michael Hayden told CNN: "Well, let me say, if someone had have said that outside the hall he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him."
- The New York Times notes that Trump's remarks were condemned from across the political spectrum, with conservative writer John Podhoretz criticizing him for suggesting that Second Amendment supporters were "potential assassins."
- The Washington Post notes that the latest uproar has followed a very familiar pattern of attention-getting expressions, followed by outrage, followed by Trump lashing out at the media—and the cycle appears "to be taking a toll among the electorate overall."
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