Jim Herriott says he doesn’t know if Donald Trump meant to incite violence against rival Hillary Clinton when he remarked that maybe there was something gun-rights supporters could do to stop Clinton. He hopes not.
Herriott, an unaffiliated voter in Raleigh, North Carolina, was one of numerous citizens across the country asked Wednesday what they thought Trump was saying at a campaign rally the day before.
“By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said of Clinton during a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina on Tuesday. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day.”
Democrats have accused Trump of encouraging violence against Clinton. Trump has said he was merely trying to indicate the strong voting power of Second Amendment supporters.
Trump is “so unintelligible anyway,” Herriott said. He “could have totally meant that if Hillary’s elected, she’s going to try to clamp down on the Second Amendment and then the gun lobby will push back on it.”
“That’s what I’d like to think he was saying, but I really have no idea what he was saying. I sure hope he wasn’t trying to incite violence.”
What others had to say:
CHARLIE PLEASANTS, 58, of Wake Forest, North Carolina:
“I personally don’t think he literally meant someone should assassinate her. I think it was probably a poor choice of words. … He could have phrased it a million different ways. That wasn’t the best way to do it.”
PAOLA (POW’-lah) RO, 29, community organizer from Honolulu in Detroit on a business trip:
“He’s not directly saying it, but we all know the Second Amendment is the right to bear arms. So if he’s saying ‘There’s nothing you can do about it, but you people (for) the Second Amendment who are fighting for the right to bear arms, maybe there’s something’ — it kind of sounds like a veiled threat to me.”
MARY CORP, 64, of Toledo, Ohio:
“I do not like Trump, but I thought it was probably a joke. People are taking it way out of context. I see what they’re saying, but I think it was probably a joke and not what he really meant.”
ANTHONY MURRELL, 53, of Toledo, Ohio:
“He should have never said that, it’s instigating. It doesn’t do anything but instigate others to do devious things. I think he was really trying to rally the NRA, but it just should never have been said.”
JOHN EGNER, 36, of Toledo, Ohio:
“The way I took it is that the people who are for the Second Amendment … aren’t going to allow the judges or the Supreme Court to tell them that they cannot bear arms or have guns. I know a lot of people spun it as maybe the Second Amendment people should do something about Hillary or something. But that’s not how I saw it or interpreted it.”
JHOVAN URENA, 34, of Phoenix:
Urena says Trump’s comments are dangerous, even if they weren’t meant seriously.
“I think he’s basically saying it’s OK for you to go kill,” he said. “That’s the way I see it. In my opinion, he’s just a joke. For him, everything is a reality show. It’s just TV.”
MARK SWAGGERTY, 56, public works employee for the city of Hartford, Connecticut:
Swaggerty said he thought all Trump was saying was that no one should try to take away people’s Second Amendment rights. He said he didn’t believe Trump was trying to incite violence.
“I think that Trump is smarter than that. He won’t threaten anybody,” Swaggerty said. “Hillary won’t threaten anybody and he won’t threaten anybody. They’re not that stupid.”
RAY NELSON, 48, of Omaha, Nebraska:
Asked if the remarks could be interpreted as a veiled threat of violence against Clinton, Nelson said, “I didn’t pick that up in the message at all. I took it as, ‘People who have the weapons, people who want to keep their weapons, you might want to make sure that Hillary is not in office, so that you can keep your weapons.’ That’s what I heard.”
AARON SANDS, 29, of Phoenix:
Sands says he thinks most people don’t take Trump’s comments seriously, and that his many controversial comments are more attention-seeking than actual threats.
“He comes off as an entertainer,” he said. “It seems more like a publicity stunt than politics. He just doesn’t think before he speaks.”
Associated Press writers Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut; John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Margery A. Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; Jeff Karoub in Detroit; and Beatriz Costa-Lima in Phoenix contributed to this report.