A US governor on Tuesday night compared controversial comments by Republican nominee Donald Trump to the rhetoric in Israel that preceded the 1995 assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Trump ignited a fresh political firestorm Tuesday by declaring gun rights supporters might still find a way to stop Hillary Clinton, even if she should defeat him and then name anti-gun Supreme Court justices, in what was interpreted by some as a call for violence.
“I instantly thought about Rabin in Israel,” Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, who is a Democrat, told MSNBC. “There were rallies going on in Israel where ‘death to Rabin’ was shouted and politicians didn’t respond.”
Violent rhetoric at right-wing rallies preceded the 1995 murder of Rabin by gunman Yigal Amir and the incitement is frequently credited as a factor that led to the killing.
“This is insanity, it’s a sickness, it’s an evil, and Republicans and Democrats and Independents have to stand up to this, otherwise this insanity will play itself out in our own country and over our existence. We’ve had enough assassinations. We’ve had enough death and we just have to reject this,” he said.
Malloy said he was “infuriated” at the “sick bravado” of Donald Trump.
“This is not a dog whistle, this is a confrontation which he is calling for,” Malloy added.
Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, that “Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” referring to the US Constitution’s clause that enshrines the right to bear arms.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Clinton’s campaign decried Trump’s “dangerous” language and demanded in a statement that presidential hopefuls “not suggest violence in any way.” Trump’s team fired back to say the 70-year-old Manhattan billionaire simply meant that gun rights advocates were a powerful voting force.
“Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” senior Trump communications advisor Jason Miller said.
The National Rifle Association, America’s largest pro-gun lobby, put forth that Trump was correct in saying it would be hard to protect the Second Amendment if Clinton appoints new justices.
“But there IS something we will do on #ElectionDay: Show up and vote for the #2A!” the group posted on Twitter.
The Secret Service — which is tasked with protecting both Trump and Clinton — said it “is aware of the comments,” but did not say whether they merited an investigation, which some Democratic lawmakers have called for.
At a later rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina Trump avoided addressing his controversial comments. But the supporter who introduced him, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, sought to clarify the remarks, insisting Trump had not aimed to incite violence.
“What he meant by that was, you have the power to vote against her,” Giuliani said.
Trump’s repeated stumbles and divisive rhetoric have angered Republican Party grandees.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden blasted the “Second Amendment” comments as “very arresting.”
“It suggests either a very bad-taste reference to political assassination and an attempt at humor, or an incredible insensitivity,” he told CNN.
Hayden was among 50 former senior Republican national security officials who warned in an open letter Monday that if Trump were elected he would be “the most reckless president in American history.”