The Primaries and the Conventions are over. August, September and October lead to November 8, election day. The cicadas are up in the trees and making almost as much noise as the candidates on the campaign trail.
Donald Trump has been in a free fall in the polls, with Hillary Clinton leading by double digits in national polls as well as swing states like New Hampshire at 17 points. The Republican establishment is described as “in chaos” as they urge the nominee to stop attacking and causing controversies. Certain staunch Republicans have jumped ship, like Meg Whitman and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Whitman has endorsed Clinton and will help raise $$ . Collins said she was “ dismayed” by Trump’s attacks on a disabled reporter, Judge Cruel and the Kahn gold star family. She will not vote for him.
On Monday, August 8, Fifty Republican senior national security leaders signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president” and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well being”. They warned that “Mr. Trump would be the most reckless president in American history” and “ Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.” They concluded, “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.” This group includes Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, C.I.A., Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretaries and Robert Zoellick, former deputy secretary of state.
“Breaking News” flashed across the three cable networks with panels focused on each powerful charge made against Donald Trump. Although Trump had just presented his revised economic plan, using the teleprompter and dealing with 14 protest interruptions earlier in the day in Michigan, this story stole the spotlight. By late Monday, the Trump campaign responded sharply. Trump issued a statement, saying that the signers of the letter were “the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess, and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place.”
Hillary Clinton was holding a rally on August 8 in Florida and issued no public comment on the letter that day. However, it was clear that most of their charges echoed her main arguments against her opponent: that Trump’s temperament makes him unfit for the position and he should not be trusted with the nuclear arsenal. She made her own headlines by accepting the three debates proposed by the bi-partisan commission. Trump has indicated he might not take part in the debates since they were scheduled on the same dates as football games. She challenged him to accept and meet her on those dates: Monday, September 26, Hofstra University, Hempstead New York; Sunday , October 9, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri and Wednesday, October 19, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tuesday, August 9 at a rally in North Carolina, Donald Trump charged, as he has before, that “Hillary wants to abolish the Second Amendment, essentially abolish the Second Amendment.” He then added, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” Within minutes, these words went viral, spinning out across the nation and the world. The cadence was mixed, but the message was frighteningly clear. Donald Trump had suggested with his wink… wink habit of throwing zingers out to thousands of adoring listeners that “Second Amendment people” (translate to gun owners) could use their guns to silence Hillary Clinton!
His supporters have shouted “kill her” when he mentions her name at rallies. They chanted “Lock her up” over and over at the Republican National Convention. A New Hampshire delegate, Al Baldasaro, made headlines when he called for her to be shot for treason by a firing squad. All of this behavior led up to the moment when Trump invoked the “Second Amendment people” and the image of a man with a gun instantly flashed through every listener’s mind.
Tim Kaine, Hillary’s running mate expressed disbelief. “Nobody who is seeking a leadership position, especially the presidency, should do anything to countenance violence and that’s what he was saying.” Other commentators on the cable networks were blunt. Michael Hayden, former C.I.A. director, said , “If anyone else had said that, he would have been put into the police wagon.” Many others called for Trump to be rebuked by all Republican establishment figures: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Mc Cain. The Trump campaign insisted he was talking about “political unification” where the “Second amendment people” would take political action. This strange rationale fell flat as historians like Jon Meacham castigated Trump as “Temperamentally unfit for office” based on his thinly veiled call for violence against his opponent.
Wednesday, August l0. Banner headline under CNN news broadcast: “Secret Service has talked to Trump Campaign.” Crawl underneath: “Official: Multiple conversations about Second Amendment remarks.” Donald Trump speaking at an afternoon rally in Virginia returns to the subject that has ignited a firestorm across the country, saying “The second amendment is under siege. We have to protect our second amendment rights.” Both statements receive thunderous applause. He goes on to attacking the “dishonest press” for twisting his words. Then segues to “Hillary’s lost 33,000 emails and illegal server.” Boasts of how unified the party is and how “the race is tightening.” (4 major polls show Clinton with a double digit lead nationally.)
Hillary Clinton is speaking at the same time in Iowa. She notes that “Some people get a little carried away. (Guess who she is thinking about.) I get carried away about creating new jobs and small businesses.” She then mentions how “ Trump stiffs small business people and refuses to pay his bills.” She stops walking with her mike, lowers her voice and says, “Words matter, my friends. Words can have tremendous consequences.” Huge applause erupts as she continues. “Yesterday, we witnessed the casual incitement of violence. We have heard Donald Trump insult the disabled and the gold star father and mother with casual words, said off hand. Does he have the temperament to be president and commander in chief?” Thunderous “No!”
As she continued her speech, a man suddently rushed toward the stage! Secret Service men raced to stop him from reaching her. Hillary stood still and remained calm. They caught and removed the man, an animal rights activist seeking attention. Hillary finished her speech, stressing we are “Strong Together”. An essential fact, often omitted from criticisms of Trump’s incendiary remarks is that Hillary Clinton has NEVER called for the Second Amendment to be abolished. First he told an incendiary lie and then he attacked her on it. Donald Trump probably doesn’t even know that Prohibition is the only amendment to the Constitution ever repealed. He has a lot to learn about the Constitution of the United States.