It's Tuesday, and Donald Trump is looking to dominate the news cycle yet again with another off-hand remark that provides many in the media the cover they need to avoid covering the election more substantively.
Have you heard the one about Donald Trump suggesting someone shoot Hillary Clinton's Supreme Court picks? It's Donald Trump—maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but the soundbite is going to get a lot of play.
"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump said in North Carolina today, "although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know."
His campaign released a statement quickly, clarifying that he meant the ballot not the bullet and blaming the "dishonest media" for misinterpreting a comment that spread like wildfire on social media.
"It's called the power of unification—2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power," wrote a Trump senior communications advisor. "And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won't be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump."
Trump's comments came in the context of talking about differences between him and Clinton, and his suggestion that Clinton wanted to "essentially abolish the Second Amendment."
"Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know, but I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day. If Hillary gets to put her judges, right now we're tied you see what's going on. We're tied because Scalia, this was not supposed to happen, Justice Scalia was going to be around for 10 more years a tleast and this is what happens. That was a horrible thing… You're not going to have a Second Amendment, you're not gonna have much of it left, and you're not going to be able to protect yourselves, what you need."
Trump also tut-tutted his short list of Supreme Court nominees, although as Damon Root has noted given Trump's apparent contempt for constitutionally limited government it's hard to expect him to choose constitutionalists for the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, Root spoke with a number of libertarian and conservative legal thinkers about where the Supreme Court was a "good reason" to back Trump. Read that here.
The Clinton campaign condemned the comments, saying that someone "seeking to to be President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way." Except, of course, when it comes to foreign policy. Clinton, of course, famously suggested to President Obama to use violence in Libya. It's also apparently OK for the campaign when it's rhetorical. When is something rhetorical? When you agree. When you disagree, take it literally.
Conservatives, meanwhile, are upset Trump's comments eclipsed the story of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen's father attending a Hillary Clinton rally in Florida. My first impression of the Trump comments were that they reinforced the idea that Trump seems like a liberal caricature of a conservative.
Watch the full Trump remarks below (queued up relevant comments that start at 37:52)