Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Tuesday night he’s benefitting from the controversy he created earlier in the day by suggesting “the Second Amendment people” might forcefully stop Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices.
After an outcry from Democrats and gun-control advocates over remarks that appeared to obliquely encourage violence, Trump said he didn’t mean to suggest any harm. The real villains, he said on Fox News, were the media.
“I have to say, in terms of politics, there is few things, and I happen to think that if [the media] did even bring this up, I think it’s a good thing for me,” Trump told Sean Hannity.
“Because it’s going to tell people more about me with respect to the Second Amendment ... because Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”
“If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump told supporters. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
The comments, which sounded very much off the cuff, quickly raised questions about why Trump seemed to be implying that gun owners were the only people who could do something about Clinton’s election.
To many people, it sounded like Trump was suggesting that the only way to prevent Clinton’s nomination of Supreme Court justices was to shoot her or her Supreme Court nominees.
Trump’s campaign quickly went into damage-control mode, with his surrogates and aides floating various explanations for the remark.
Trump told Hannity “there can be no other interpretation” to what he said other than as a commentary on Clinton’s position on the Second Amendment. “Even reporters have told me,” Trump said. “I mean, give me a break.”
The National Rifle Association, which has backed Trump since his nomination, defended his statements. However, the NRA ignored the most controversial part of Trump’s claims.