Donald Trump Campaign Says 'Dishonest Media' Misinterpreted His Second Amendment Comment Donald Trump charged that Hillary Clinton wanted to "abolish the Second Amendment," then appeared to many to suggest taking up arms against her. His campaign says his statement was only political.
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Trump Campaign Says 'Dishonest Media' Misinterpreted His Second Amendment Comment

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Trump Campaign Says 'Dishonest Media' Misinterpreted His Second Amendment Comment

Trump Campaign Says 'Dishonest Media' Misinterpreted His Second Amendment Comment

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's listen twice to Donald Trump's remarks about gun owners resisting Hillary Clinton. The Republican presidential candidate made a remark yesterday about the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. It was immediately called a suggestion of violence. Even the Secret Service said it is aware of the comments. The candidate himself says he was just talking of a political uprising, so we're going to work through this remark two times with NPR's Sarah McCammon who's in our studio. She covers the Trump campaign.

Hi, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK. So this happens yesterday in Wilmington, N.C., right?

MCCAMMON: Right.

INSKEEP: OK. Here's the crucial part of the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish - essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way - and if she gets to pick...

(BOOING)

TRUMP: If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know. But...

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.

INSKEEP: OK. A lot of people laughing and cheering and booing, one man with his mouth open at one point as Trump is saying those things. You can see all that on the video. But there's a lot in there, so let's go through this piece by piece. First, this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish - essentially abolish the Second Amendment.

INSKEEP: Sarah McCammon, that's the charge by Donald Trump. Does he say that a lot?

MCCAMMON: Yeah. This is something he says all the time on the campaign trail. It really riles up his audience. It gets them excited. A lot of his supporters are gun rights advocates. But I - we should point out, first of all, the president can't unilaterally abolish a constitutional amendment, and that is not Hillary Clinton's position. She does favor tougher gun regulations - things like stricter background checks, broader background checks and things like allowing families of gun violence victims to sue gun makers and dealers. But she's never called for abolishing the Second Amendment, Steve.

INSKEEP: So they have a disagreement about how far gun regulations can go...

MCCAMMON: Exactly.

INSKEEP: ...Just as Donald Trump has had a disagreement with himself over the years about how far gun regulations can go because he's sometimes been for them and is now very much against them. Right.

OK. So that's the first part, the abolishing the Second Amendment. Let's go to the next part of the speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: By the way - and if she gets to pick...

(BOOING)

TRUMP: If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.

INSKEEP: What's he talking about there?

MCCAMMON: There is, of course, one vacancy on the Supreme Court right now, expected to be, quite possibly, others during the next president's term. This is something that Trump has stressed on the campaign trail, that conservatives have given as a good reason for Republicans to vote for Trump - that they want him to pick Supreme Court justices, not Clinton.

INSKEEP: And I guess the concern is Hillary Clinton would favor policies that you don't like. It would go in a lawsuit to the Supreme Court, and her justices would rule in her favor. That's the concern he's raising.

MCCAMMON: Yes, on gun rights and other issues.

INSKEEP: OK. So now let's resume. Here's the punchline.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know. But...

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.

INSKEEP: All right. What does it mean - Second Amendment people, maybe there is something they can do afterward?

MCCAMMON: So a lot of people, Steve, took that to mean that Trump was suggesting, you know, a call to arms - that gun owners take up arms against his opponent. On a campaign swing in Austin, Texas, Clinton's running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, spoke to the public radio newsmagazine the Texas Standard. Here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIM KAINE: There is absolutely no place - there should be no place in our politics for somebody who wants to be a leader to say something, even in an offhand way, that is connected to inciting violence. And that's exactly what he said. In addition, the whole thing is false. Hillary Clinton is a Second Amendment supporter, just like I am.

MCCAMMON: And Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, called this kind of language dangerous. But Steve, Trump and his campaign and his surrogates have steadfastly said that is not what he meant. They've said he was talking about political power.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, let's hear what Donald Trump himself said. He was on Fox News last night. He's talking to Sean Hannity. Sean Hannity says - Mr. Trump, this was obviously a harmless remark, what do you think? And Trump says, in part, this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HANNITY")

TRUMP: This is a tremendous political movement. The NRA, as you know, endorsed me. They're terrific people, Wayne and Chris and all of the people over there. And by the way, they've already - I just saw they tweeted out basically they agree 100 percent with what I said. And there can be no other interpretation, even reporters have told me. I mean, give me a break.

INSKEEP: Sarah, you've written about this in the past. Donald Trump will make a remark that's interpreted as outrageous, and then he'll insist no, no, no, you're being outrageous. I didn't mean anything by it.

MCCAMMON: Right. He - you know, he'll sort of push the boundaries and then sort of dial it back. And the interesting thing, Steve, is that his supporters seem to think, you know, he's either just speaking from the gut, or he's saying what needs to be said, or he didn't mean, you know, the worst way you might interpret that. It worked well for him in the primaries. Republican primary voters liked that. But here we are in the general election. His poll numbers are falling. This is the kind of thing that can hurt him in the general election cycle.

INSKEEP: He dominates the media when he does this, right?

MCCAMMON: That's right. He keeps himself in the headlines. That has been - he's been a master at staying in the headlines. Worked well so far, but, you know, going forward, we'll see.

INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks very much.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

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