DES MOINES — Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she interpreted her opponent’s comment about gun-rights advocates, seen by many as an indistinct reference to political assassination, as his “casual inciting of violence” and “the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that cross the line.”
“Words matter, my friends,” Clinton told a crowd of 1,650 here in Des Moines, offering her first public reaction to Trump’s suggestion to a crowd in North Carolina that Second Amendment backers might still be able to stop the former secretary of state from appointing Supreme Court Justices even if she is elected.
“Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” he told supporters in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Tuesday. “If she gets to pick her judges, there’s nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is. I don’t know."
Trump has since defended his remark, which prompted a wave of laughs from the crowd, as a reference to the political power of the gun-rights movement.
Clinton did not dwell long on Trump's remark in her speech here on Wednesday, characterizing the incident as just as offensive as those he’s aimed at others, including Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who spoke at the DNC and are the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in action: “His casual cruelty to a Gold Star family, his casual suggestion that more countries should have nuclear weapons and now his casual inciting of violence.”
“Every single one of these incidents shows us that Donald Trump simply does not have the temperament to be president and commander in chief of the United States,” Clinton argued. “If you are running to be president, or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences."
Trump made the remark on Tuesday as Clinton was leaving a health clinic in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. She ignored questions from the press later that day, but her running-mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, gathered reporters in Texas to offer his own emphatic response.
”When I read the quote I couldn't believe he said it,” he said. "It is a window into the soul of a person who is just temperamentally not suited to the task.”
Clinton, making her first appearance in Iowa since the caucuses six months ago, took the opportunity to make a direct appeal for voters turned off by Trump, building on her new initiative, launched Wednesday morning, aimed at Republican and Independent voters that her campaign is calling “Together For America.”
Clinton said she’s been “humbled and moved" by Republicans who have spoken out against Trump — “not only as Republicans, but as Americams” — as “USA” and “Stronger Together” signs bobbed in the air across the Lincoln High School gymnasium.
“We may not agree on everything,” she said, “but this is not a normal election.”
Ruby Cramer is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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