On Monday, Donald Trump delivered an unusually focused speech about the economy that almost sounded like he was possessed by Mitt Romney. For one day, Trump acted like the quasi-establishment candidate who conservative voters hoped would eventually surface on the campaign trail.
Then Tuesday saw Trump re-embrace his former bombastic persona — and then some — during a Wilmington, North Carolina rally. Once Trump uttered his made-up claim that Clinton wants to abolish gun rights, disaster arrived. He hinted that the “2nd Amendment people” could do something to stop Hillary Clinton (and perhaps her future Supreme Court nominees). And then a full day of concentrated progress devolved into an utter mess while observers reacted with outrage and utter shock. Many interpreted his words as saying only guns can halt Clinton.
The Clinton campaign swiftly branded Trump’s words as “dangerous.” Gabby Giffords, whose life has been forever affected by gun violence, steadfastly agreed, and the reactions grew even more serious. TIME magazine spoke to a former top official of the Secret Service, who characterized Trump’s words as a “veiled threat” against the Democratic nominee: “Look, this guy is coming pretty close to the edge here.” And Congressman Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) tweeted that the Secret Service “must investigate #TrumpThreat.”