Donald Trump and his surrogates on Wednesday attempted to walk back his comments on "Second Amendment people," pulling a dog-eared page from the GOP playbook: blame the media.
The message from Team Trump was not about the words themselves but the interpretation that they were a wink to gun owners that they might have to take matters into their own hands to defend gun rights.
"If [Hillary Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump said at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is."
Trump's pal and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dismissed the remarks on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, saying "the Clinton spin machine is responsible for making a mountain out of a molehill."
Giuliani defends Trump's 2nd Amendment comment on @GMA: Trump "is not particularly indirect" https://t.co/SHuSsV7uZk https://t.co/hMrCmKwA9K
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 10, 2016
The Republican nominee's campaign co-chair Sam Clovis appeared on CNN Wednesday morning and told Chris Cuomo that no matter the media chatter, voters and Trump supporters "don't really care what you and I say."
Scottie Nell Hughes, a high-profile spokesperson (parodied by Saturday Night Live as a "nutjob"), worked the grind on CNN later in the morning.
"Whatever she's being paid needs to be doubled," said her co-panelist Larry Sabato, director of the Virginia Center for politics. "This is indefensible."
"It wasn't that he was inciting violence, it was that the media were taking his words and turning them into something that weren't really there," said another panelist and Trump backer Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "I've watched this video multiple times and couldn't come up where he's trying to incite violence."
Perhaps surprisingly, in making his comments Trump appeared to to ignore what might have created a bad news cycle for his opponent, after the father of Florida shooting suspect Omar Mateen turned up unauthorized in the audience of a Hillary Clinton rally the same day.
Instead, he kicked off what will no doubt be another several days of negative coverage, as he did in attacking the Khan family, a bereaved military couple who criticized Trump at the DNC.
Follow Brendan James on Twitter: @deep_beige