WILMINGTON, N.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is stirring up more controversy after suggesting that pro-gun rights advocates could stop Hillary Clinton.
Trump said at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Tuesday that if Clinton gets to pick federal judges as president, there is nothing that can be done to protect the right to bear arms.
But then he adds without elaboration that maybe supporters of the Second Amendment could figure out a way.
“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,” Trump said.
CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported the Trump campaign played off the comments as a misunderstanding.
“It’s called the power of unification – 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump,” the statement read.
Trump himself seemed unaware of the controversy in an interview shortly after the rally, but he repeated that his point was that Second Amendment advocates are a powerful lobby. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also came to Trump’s defense.
“I think you are talking about — I’m not sure because I haven’t’ heard this question — but I think you’re talking about the power of people that are in favor of the Second Amendment, and they have tremendous political power,” he said.
When asked about Democrats’ statements equating the remark to condoning violence, Trump said: Oh no, no. This is political power.”
Giuliani added, “I mean, this is the Clinton trick book that you fall for all the time.”
Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller told CBS News’ Major Garrett the accusations the GOP nominee was calling for violence are “completely ridiculous.”
“Donald Trump was obviously talking about American voters who are passionate about their Second Amendment rights and advocating they use that power at the ballot box,” Miller told CBS News. “The Clinton campaign is desperate and is obviously throwing all sorts of outrageous charges. I am surprised so many reporters are falling hook-line-and-sinker for what is obviously a ridiculous charge.”
The Clinton campaign said in a statement, “This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
The Secret Service said it “is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said Trump was talking about the clear election choice for pro-gun voters, not encouraging violence against Clinton.
“Of course not,” Pence said in an interview with NBC Philadelphia. “Donald Trump is urging people around this country to act consistent with their convictions in the course of this election.”
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has endorsed Clinton, said Trump was encouraging gun violence “based on conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton.”
Tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat: “(at)realDonaldTrump makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”
The National Rifle Association, the gun lobby that has endorsed Trump, came to his defense. The group wrote on Twitter that “there’s nothing we can do” if Clinton is elected while urging voters to defeat her in November.
The Second Amendment provides a constitutional right to citizens to own guns.
During the event, Trump said falsely that Clinton “essentially wants to abolish the Second Amendment.” Clinton supports some new restrictions on gun ownership, but has not advocated overturning the amendment.
However, Clinton finds herself embroiled in a new controversy after the father of Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, showed up to her rally on Monday in Kissimmee.
Seddique Mateen made it sound as though he had been invited to the rally, but it appears he was simply on a Clinton mailing list because he’s a registered Democrat.
“Clinton is good for the United States versus Donald Trump,” he said.
On Tuesday, Clinton toured a health care clinic in Miami and called on Congress to step up funding for Zika.
“I would very much urge the leadership of Congress to call people back for a special session and get a bill passed,” Clinton said.
A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll reveals that Clinton holds a 10-point lead nationally over Trump — 51 to 41 percent.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)