Anti-Donald Trump Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) defended Trump’s remarks about Second Amendment supporters stopping Hillary Clinton during a CNN interview on Wednesday, saying she did not think he was inciting violence.
Trump created another uproar on Tuesday when he said "maybe" the "Second Amendment people" could stop Clinton from appointing liberal judges to the Supreme Court. Many observers took the remark as, at best, a tasteless joke that Clinton could be assassinated and, at worst, a call for violence against his Democratic rival.
Collins, who lambasted Trump this week and announced she would not support him, said that her party’s nominee had made so many inflammatory comments that it was not surprising his latest remark had been "misinterpreted."
"It’s very rare for me to come to his defense, and as you know, I do not support him to be our next president. But, in this case, I truly interpreted his comments as saying … Second Amendment advocates in every state, that they have a lot of political clout, that they could work together to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president," Collins said. "I really did not see it in any way as inciting violence or as a call for violence."
She added, however, that the fact the comment was interpreted in such a negative fashion reflected how often Trump has made eyebrow-raising comments.
"Donald Trump has such a history of making remarks that denigrate people, that mock the vulnerable, that are so inappropriate for a presidential candidate, and thus, when he makes a remark like this, which I interpreted in not in any way inciting violence, people leap to the conclusion that he’s trying to send some sort of message," she said.
Trump had only himself to blame, Collins said, for people leaping to such conclusions.