After a bruising day dominated by his non-apology for promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory, Donald Trump attempted to regain control of the direction of his presidential campaign at a Miami rally in which he appeared to hint at the assassination of Hillary Clinton.
In a sometimes bizarre 45-minute speech on Friday night, which opened with the unfurling of a new “Les Deplorables” battlefield flag backdrop, the Republican nominee went off-script to call for his opponent’s bodyguards to “disarm immediately” – adding, “Let’s see what happens to her.”
“Take their guns away!” Trump demanded to loud cheers during a section of the speech in which he said his rival wanted to “destroy your second amendment” and he accused Clinton of “arrogance and entitlement”.
In a statement, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook denounced Trump’s comments: “Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, has a pattern of inciting people to violence. Whether this is done to provoke protesters at a rally or casually or even as a joke, it is an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief.”
“But we’ve seen again and again that no amount of failed resets can change who Donald Trump is.”
The call to leave the Democratic nominee protected by unarmed secret service agents, first made by Trump in May, raised eyebrows as a reversion to the undisciplined candidate of the primaries rather than the more scripted one of recent weeks. Trump also suggested in August that if Clinton was elected president, “the second amendment people” might be able to stop her from appointing judges. That statement was widely interpreted as a veiled assassination threat as well at the time.