During a rambling speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday, Donald Trump gave a preview of an attack that he plans to use against Bernie Sanders in the general election, if the 78-year-old Vermont senator wins the Democratic Party nomination.
"He said the Boston bombers, the Boston guys, he said they have the right to vote," Trump told the CPAC crowd, as quoted by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar via Twitter. "I said, 'I won't use that 'til later on — and I used it today! At CPAC!"
Trump then admitted that he should have waited until "two months before" the November 3 general election to reveal his "Boston Marathon bomber" attack on Sanders. He went on to say that Sanders would "find a way of getting out of it," and then he would not be able to use the line of attack during the general election campaign after all.
Trump was referring to statements by Sanders made during a CNN town hall broadcast in April of last year, in which Sanders did, in fact, appear to say that the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, should be given full voting rights — even as he sits on death row.
Tsarnaev was convicted in April of 2015 on 30 federal counts stemming from the April 15, 2013, bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts. Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed in the twin blasts, according to CNN.
The bombs set off by Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were made from pressure cookers, and filled with nails and BB-like pellets, in addition to explosives, in an apparent effort to inflict maximum casualties on the marathon spectators.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death after his conviction.
During the town hall broadcast last year, Sanders was asked about his longtime policy of granting full voting rights to convicted felons, even those currently behind bars. The questioner, identified as a Harvard University student, according to Boston Magazine, asked Sanders if the policy would apply to convicted sex criminals, or to Tsarnaev.
"I believe every single person does have the right to vote," Sanders replied, adding that denying "terrible people" voting rights would be "running down a slippery slope."