Last Updated Sep 16, 2016 9:09 PM EDT
MIAMI Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stirred controversy once again in Miami Friday night, making vague insinuations about what would happen if Hillary Clinton’s bodyguards had their guns taken away.
“She wants to destroy your Second Amendment,” Trump said, starting on a familiar refrain.
“Guns, guns, guns, right? I think what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards, like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Right? I think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away! She doesn’t want guns. Take their - let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. Okay, it would be very dangerous.”
The boisterous crowd yelled as Trump suggested disarming Clinton’s bodyguards, something he has said in the past. It continued cheering when he said, “Let’s see what happens to her.”
It wasn’t the first time Trump had expressed a similar sentiment.
At the National Rifle Association convention in May, Trump said, “So Americans use guns to defend themselves against violent crime more than a million times a year, okay. More than a million times a year. And they want to take them away, heartless hypocrites like the Clintons want to take this and get rid of guns, and yet they have bodyguards that have guns. So I think that in addition to calling for them to name judges, we’ll also call them and let their bodyguards immediately disarm.”
“Okay? They should immediately disarm. And let’s see how good they do. Let’s see how they feel walking around without their guns on their bodyguards.”
Just weeks ago - at another rally in early August, Trumpwhile talking about the Second Amendment.
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump said in Wilmington, North Carolina. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
Trump’s critics slammed the comments as potentially inciting violence against Clinton, an accusation that. Trump also denied reports in the aftermath that the Secret Service had a conversation with him about those comments.
The rally was in Miami, where the large Cuban population means President Barack Obama’s normalizing of relations with Cuba remains a hot topic.
“We’re also going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression,” Trump said. He said that the normalization with Cuba was a “one-sided” deal that “benefits only the Castro regime.”
He went so far as to suggest he would reverse the deal in office unless the Castro regime meets Trump’s demands, which now include “religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”
This seemed to mark a shift in Trump’s tone on Cuba over the last year. Asked in September of 2015 by the Daily Caller if he opposed normalizing relations with the island nation, Trump said, “I think it’s fine. I think it’s fine, but we should have made a better deal. The concept of opening with Cuba — 50 years is enough — the concept of opening with Cuba is fine.”
In March, Trump told CNN that he would likely continue the normalization process with Cuba in office.
“Probably so,” Trump said when asked if he would continue to normalize economic and diplomatic relations. “But I’d want much better deals than we’re making.”
Trump’s recently professed hardline stance now seems to align him further with more traditional Republican thinking, especially policies espoused by Florida’s home state senator, Marco Rubio, once Trump’s former foe in the primary and now reluctant supporter.
Trump’s speech in Miami came on the same day that Trump held a bizarre press conference at his new hotel in Washington. After teasing on Fox Business that he would be making a big announcement about the debunked birth movement, of which Trump was a vocal leader, he spent time promoting the hotel and then lined up military veterans to praise him.
Finally, at the end of the event, Trump gave a cursory statementand that he finished it.
“Now, not to mention her in the same breath, but Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said. “I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you.”
With that, Trump walked away from the microphones. There was neither an apology, nor any mention of his vocal cheerleading for years - as recently as 2015 - of the birther movement. He did not say why his opinion changed or when. He had spent more time discussing his hotel than the birther issue.