Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump bragged at a rally in Iowa Saturday that he could shoot someone on a busy street in New York City but still not lose support.
Trump reportedly boasted during a rally at Dordt College, a Christian institution in Sioux City, northwest Iowa, that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, and still keep his voters.
“They say I have the most loyal people [supporters],” Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, it is incredible.”
The real estate mogul used his fingers to simulate a gun and the act of pulling the trigger.
CNN reports that Trump declined to clarify the comment when confronted by reporters after the event.
But Trump’s political opponents are suggesting he may have revealed inadvertently that he thinks his supporters’ loyalty is uncritical and unthinking.
However, this is not the first time that Trump has bragged about the unwavering loyalty of his supporters. He has often cited polls that appear to confirm the loyalty of his supporters, many of whom insist they are unlikely to change their minds about voting for him as the GOP presidential candidate.
TRUMP: I could stand in the middle of 5th ave, shoot somebody & I wouldn't lose any voters, it is incredible. pic.twitter.com/J1YusVK84A— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) January 23, 2016
But according to critics, touting the loyalty of his supporters with the suggestion that he could commit murder and still not lose their support was a faux-pas because it suggested he has a low opinion of their intelligence.
“Basically, Trump understands he has enough people who will eagerly swallow anything he says that whatever he does genuinely does not matter,” Mediaite comments.
“Trump understands he has enough people who will eagerly swallow anything he says that whatever he does genuinely does not matter.”
But it seems unlikely that Trump’s followers would consider such characterization of their support as necessarily demeaning. Mediaite reports there was laughter in the audience when he made the remark.
According to ABC News, Brandon Fokkema, a student volunteer at the rally, told reporters that what Trump meant was clear despite the awkward manner in which he expressed it. According to Fokkema, what Trump meant to say was that he would keep his lead in the polls no matter what his political opponents or the media say about him.
But he reportedly admitted that Trump could have expressed the thought differently.
“He probably could’ve worded it a little bit better,” he said.
The fact that the presidential candidate’s joke about shooting people comes in the midst of raging debate about gun violence and mass shootings could also lead to further criticism.
But the flippant allusion to homicide echoes previous comments.
This is not the first time that Trump has joked about killing people. He appeared to vacillate over the question whether he should follow the example of Russian President Vladimir Putin by killing offending journalists (see video below).
“I would never kill them. I would never do that,” Trump reportedly said at a rally in Walker, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
But he appeared to reconsider, saying, “Uh, let’s see, uh?… No, I would never do that.”
The comment also recalls previous incidents of violence during Trump rallies and by people claiming to be his supporters.
His supporters attacked a black protester in Alabama last November.
They also shouted “sieg heil,” and “Light the m********** on fire,” in response to protesters at a rally in Las Vegas.
A man, who was one of a group that beat a homeless Hispanic man, reportedly tried to explain his action by citing Trump.
Police said the man told interrogators, “Donald Trump was right; all these illegals need to be deported.”
Trump reportedly responded to the incident, saying his supporters were “very passionate.”
[Photo By Evan Vucci/AP]