Donald Trump has chided rival Hillary Clinton suggesting her bodyguards disarm and "see what happens to her." It's not the first time the Republican presidential hopeful has hinted darkly of violence during the campaign.
Trump used a Friday campaign speech to cross the line between sardonic wit and dark threats after saying that if Clinton favors more gun control, then her Secret Service detail should disarm and expect the consequences.
"I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons," the real estate mogul told a spirited rally in Miami, Florida. "I think they should disarm. Immediately. What do you think. Yes? Take their guns away. She doesn't want guns. Take them. Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK. It will be very dangerous."
Both Clinton and Trump are protected by armed US Secret Service agents. And the Clinton campaign was quick to condemn the candidate's remarks.
"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," campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement. "He is unfit to be President and it is time Republican leaders stand up to denounce this disturbing behavior in their nominee."
While it is true that Clinton says she favors tightening access to firearms as a remedy for deadly gun violence in the US, Trump has repeatedly accused her of wanting to overturn the Second Amendment of the US constitution, which enshrines a citizen's right to bear arms.
Trump's past inflammatory language
It's not the first time that Trump has made statements that appear to incite violence just short of direct calls for political assassination. Last month he suggested gun rights activists could act to stop Clinton from nominating US Supreme Court justices who would seek to overturn constitutional guarantees to firearms.
"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump told a rally in North Carolina on August 9. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know," he continued.
On Friday, Trump ignored reporters' questions about his abrupt change in stance this week over the place of President Obama's birth.
For years, Trump had claimed Obama had not been born in Hawaii and suggested he was born outside the country, which could arguably affect his legal right to hold the highest executive office. He reversed his position on Thursday in a brief statement but refused to explain the timing of announcing his climb down from his past bizarre claim.
jar/rc (Reuters, AP)