Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday that he had no problem with Donald Trump’s statement that “Second Amendment people” might do something to stop Hillary Clinton from making judicial nominations.
McCrory – who spoke at the Wilmington rally Tuesday before Trump took the stage – did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday. He broke his silence on the topic Thursday morning when he was asked about it during an interview on Fayetteville radio station WFNC.
“I don’t think anyone in the auditorium even recognized there was controversy until Hillary Clinton tweets came out and made it into a controversy,” McCrory said on the radio show. “I don’t think anyone in the crowd even realized anything controversial was said or took it the way CNN or Hillary Clinton’s spin machine made it to be. So I was kind of shocked driving home and hearing the spin and reading the tweets that came right out of the Hillary Clinton camp.”
Hundreds of social media users immediately criticized the Trump comment, noting that the presidential candidate appeared to be suggesting violence. He later said he meant that gun-rights supporters would mobilize for the election and defeat Clinton, but his comment addressed a scenario in which Clinton had already won the presidency and was appointing liberal judges.
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“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said at the rally. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Clinton’s campaign did not issue a statement condemning the comment until about an hour after Trump spoke.
McCrory’s comment Thursday puts him at odds with Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a fellow Trump supporter who said Wednesday that he was “surprised” by the remark and urged Trump to focus instead on other topics. But McCrory also said he wishes coverage of the presidential campaigns would address other matters.
“I just wish the media and everyone else would get off of these controversies about who says what and how they say it, and get back to the issues that we have got to get the details from all the presidential candidates on,” such as Syrian refugees, the governor said.
McCrory also addressed why he sometimes avoids comment on developments in the presidential race. “I just don’t respond to it anymore,” he said. “Every day WRAL or something asks me to respond to some comment. I’m just not doing it. I’ve got a huge amount of issues on my plate.”
McCrory’s Democratic opponent, attorney general Roy Cooper, was quick to criticize the governor’s take on the Trump controversy. His campaign sent a transcript and recording of the WFNC interview to reporters.
“While Republicans concerned about our national security are denouncing Donald Trump in the strongest terms, Gov. McCrory is not only continuing to support Trump, but is defending his dangerous rhetoric,” Cooper spokesman Jamal Little said in a news release. “This raises real questions about his judgment and priorities. We deserve a governor who will stand up to this dangerous demagoguery.”