When Donald Trump shits on the floor, there’s a horde of people waiting to put his mess in a doggy poop bag.
But no matter what they do, the stench remains.
On Tuesday, the sanitizing brigade had their work cut out for them when Trump suggested that “Second Amendment” diehards might be the only ones who can stop Hillary Clinton, if she makes it to the White House.
Trump made the comments during a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Tuesday, after an extended riff about the dangers of Hillary Clinton appointing liberal Supreme Court justices—then he said his fans could do something to stop that.
“By the way, if she gets to pick her judges,” Trump said. “Nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Was he saying people who bear arms can go kill the president? Was he saying that they could just go kill Supreme Court justices? Or was it a bigger argument about the rights of NRA voters to be heard in the electoral process? Or just a macabre joke?
According to the Trump campaign, it’s all or none of the above.
Of course, each and every time Trump says something that would sink any other candidate, there is never an apology. Instead, his supporters just trot out the excuse that the precious liberal media misinterpreted him.
The first statement that emerged from the Trump campaign came from Senior Communications Adviser Jason Miller, a recent addition and a veteran of Ted Cruz’s campaign.
“It’s called the power of unification—2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” Miller wrote. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”
That is all well and good but it doesn’t get at the central issue in Trump’s statement. The Republican candidate for president was discussing actions that people could take after Clinton was elected, not how they could be mobilized to prevent her from becoming elected.
Then Trump’s national spokesperson Katrina Pierson—who recently exacerbated the candidate’s dispute with the Gold Star Khan family by saying President Obama was responsible for their son’s death—tried her hand at an explanation on CNN.
“Mr. Trump was saying exactly what he said,” Pierson began. “He was talking about Hillary Clinton and gun control, essentially, which is something that has been talked about a lot on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton is a gun-grabber and everyone knows that if she’s in a position to appoint Supreme Court justices, she will do everything that she can to remove the Second Amendment.”
Now not only does this this not explain Trump’s statement, it also perpetuates a false assertion that the candidate has been making, which is that Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment.
Jake Tapper followed up by correctly saying that Trump was referencing what could be done after Clinton had won.
“Well that’s actually not what he was talking about,” Pierson said, despite video evidence to the contrary. “Just before that he was saying what could happen, as you just said, ‘what could happen.’ He doesn’t want that to happen. And in order to stop that, people that support their Second Amendment rights, need to come together and get out there and stop Hillary Clinton from winning in November.”
To further add to the confusion, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was opening up for Trump at both of his North Carolina rallies today, blamed the entire situation on the Clinton campaign.
“The Clinton people,” Giuliani said. “They spin out that what he meant by that was, that it was a joke and that what he meant by that was that they would kill her. To buy that, you have to be corrupt because if you said that to me, I would say to you: ‘Are you out of your mind?’”
He went on to say that the press is mostly “in the tank for Hillary Clinton.”
But how is any honest reporter supposed to interpret what happened when the Trump campaign and its surrogates can’t even properly explain or answer direct questions?
Every single time Trump makes a self-inflicted error, there are no mea culpas and somehow the campaign manages to turn a small ditch into the Mariana Trench.
It happened with the Khan family (they shouldn’t have attacked Mr. Trump!).
It happened with the Melania Trump plagiarism (this is all Clinton spin!).
It happened with Trump telling Russians to release hacked emails (he’s obviously joking!).
The problem with this pattern of mistake/lash out/deny is that Tuesday’s remarks follow a recent pattern from others in the Trump orbit of calling for Obama, Clinton, and their supporters to be killed.
Al Baldasaro, the Trump campaign’s veterans’ adviser, recently said that Clinton should be executed by firing squad for treason. (Trump personally thanked Baldasaro at a rally over the weekend for his service in the campaign.)
A former adviser for Trump’s campaign, operative Roger Stone, also said that if Trump is denied the presidency through the “rigged” political system that there will be a “bloodbath” in the streets.
Not to mention Trump’s butler took to Facebook earlier this year to say that President Obama should be “hung for treason.”
And remarkably, Trump is not the first candidate to make such a statement about violence against a political opponent.
Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle in 2010 talked about using “Second Amendment remedies” to stop the “tyranny” of Democratic rule. (She later claimed she was “speaking broadly… about the Constitution.”) Angle also implored people to “take Harry Reid out.” Afterwards, Angle insisted she meant “take him out of office.”
At the very least, Angle tried to address her own words directly as opposed to Trump and his campaign, which has completely glossed over what he actually said.
While Trump’s verbal-spewing strategy worked in the primaries with a crowded field, it doesn’t seem to be playing out for Trump in the general election so far. With three months to go, he is woefully behind Clinton in many swing states, has not demonstrated an equivalent ground game, and has been witness to a host of Republicans fleeing in fear to Clinton’s side.
Just how much more of his shit can hit the fan?