For most of us, when someone makes a death threat–even if it’s someone you absolutely loathe–it’s not something for which we should be grateful. Indeed, it should be something that anyone with any decency should disavow in no uncertain terms.
Well, apparently the Donald Trump campaign missed that memo. You may recall that earlier today, New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, a major Trump surrogate and adviser on veterans’ issues, declared that if it were up to him, Hillary Clinton would be “put in the firing line and shot for treason.” You would think that Trump, having just clinched the nomination, would use this chance to appear presidential for once. You would think that Trump would have disavowed Baldasaro right away.
Well, you thought wrong. In response, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued the following unbelievable statement:
“We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”
Um, Hope? If your boss doesn’t agree with Baldasaro’s comments, then why are you still “grateful for his support”? This kind of language deserves nothing less than the strongest condemnation. You shouldn’t be in any way grateful for the support of anyone who even thinks such bile is acceptable. The Secret Service feels the same way; it’s now investigating the matter.
When Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall saw this, he was dumbfounded that Hicks–and through her, Trump–would issue “the kind of statement one usually hears about a policy disagreement” in response to what amounts to a demand to lynch an opponent. He doesn’t think this was an accident. How’s that? Well, I’ll let him tell you.
“Do I think people on the Trump campaign really want to see Clinton injured or killed? No, I do not. But I do think they believe that exciting a climate of agitated grievance, militant anger and aggression helps them galvanize, gain and intensify support. On one and three they’re likely right. Just as importantly, they clearly believe that any clear denunciation of the growing chorus of angry and occasionally violent threats would demoralize and dishearten a key part of their base.”
The more I think about it, this makes sense, based on what we’ve heard–or rather, haven’t heard–from Trump on the campaign trail. Remember, this is a guy who hasn’t even lifted a finger to rein in the blatant anti-Semites who act in his name. The RNC actually did it for him when a torrent of anti-Semitic comments forced the shutdown of chatting on the convention’s live stream.
Marshall adds that for Trump, “provocation is his calling card.” He’s done it himself too many times to count, so it should come as no surprise when his supporters engage in it. That sort of behavior may have gotten him to the finish line in a party where primary races have increasingly become a contest on who can out-conservative and out-wingnut the other. But if he thinks this will work in a general election, then to put it mildly he’s delusional.
To its credit, the New Hampshire Republican Party saw this for the pigweed that it was. State GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn denounced Baldasaro’s remarks as “completely unacceptable” and called for Baldasaro to retract them at once. But Baldasaro isn’t backing down one inch. He told NH1 that he was was speaking as a veteran, and “my military mind believes it’s treason.” Apparently he was taking his cue from the Trump campaign still being “grateful for his support.”
If Trump thinks this kind of bile is something for which his campaign should be “grateful,” then it should make the rest of us even more grateful to see him routed on Election Day.