Rep. Duncan D. Hunter defended Donald Trump’s controversial remark earlier Tuesday that “Second Amendment people” might take action to stop a President Hillary Clinton from naming judges to the Supreme Court — which some took as an assassination threat.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, then said: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, the four-term East County congressman said Trump’s words were “pretty easily understood by me” to mean: “We can stop her from becoming president.”
Hunter at first said: “Trump said what he meant” but minutes later told Blitzer: “He misspeaks a lot because he doesn’t speak for a living. … So I can see where this happens, and I think it’s going to happen more, too.”
Among the first in Congress to endorse the New York businessman, Hunter denied that Trump’s words suggested “anything to do with assassination or trying to commit some kind of violent act.”
Hunter objected to remarks by former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, who accused Trump of promoting political killing.
Hayden said: “If someone else had said that outside of the hall, they would be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.”
Hunter, in San Diego, said Trump was exercising his freedom of speech: “I don’t think you haul somebody away for saying we’re going to get out the vote and stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president. It’s that simple to me. I think Gen. Hayden is wrong.”
Saying he himself could be inarticulate, Hunter said Trump wasn’t an “English professor with a Ph.D. in grammar,” and thus eligible for dissecting. “But I’m not doing that with Mr. Trump because you can’t. … Sometimes he says things and the way it comes out is not what he means. This is not an assassination talk.”
Hunter, whose father once sought the White House, is favored to win a fifth term in his heavily Republican 50th District. He chalked up the latest debate to presidential politics.
“People are going to make as much a deal as they can about something like this,” said Hunter, 39. “When you talk politics, you use metaphors and analogies all the time. … You’re treating Mr. Trump’s words like he is the most articulate person who’s ever graced our ears with his words. That is not true. He is not a politician. … I’m not going to judge him on that because I don’t think that’s what he meant. He can be inarticulate at times.”