Why Hillary Clinton might feel Donald Trump's pain after "2nd Amendment" gaffe

Donald Trump lit a fresh controversy this week with his suggestion that "Second Amendment people" could stop Hillary Clinton from naming her judicial picks, if she becomes president - a remark many interpreted as a suggestion that gun rights activists could violently target Clinton or her judicial nominees.

""If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," Trump said at a rally on Tuesday. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know. But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day."

Trump and his defenders say critics misread the remark. They insist the GOP nominee was merely talking about Second Amendment supporters peacefully exercising their political power to prevent Clinton from appointing jurists to the federal bench. And some have pointed to a similar gaffe Clinton made in 2008 to argue that Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt.

As the Democratic nomination was slipping from her grasp in May 2008, Clinton faced calls to drop out and endorse then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who'd at that point built a virtually insurmountable lead in the primary.

When she was asked by a South Dakota newspaper at the end of that month why she was still running, Clinton replied, "You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? ...We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

To some, Clinton's response suggested she was staying in the race because there was a possibility Obama could be killed, as Bobby Kennedy had been during the 1968 Democratic primary.

After an indignant eruption from Obama's team, Clinton quickly backtracked: "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever."

It wasn't quite a pristine mea culpa - she apologized "if" her remark was "in any way offensive," not for the remark itself. But it's worth noting that she was considerably more contrite than Trump has been in response to his own misstep.

"Give me a break," Trump scoffed to Fox News when asked about the criticism. His campaign released a statement blaming the "dishonest media" for manufacturing the controversy.

On May 25, 2008, days after Clinton's remark on RFK, her spokesman, Howard Wolfson, appeared on "Face the Nation" to offer the campaign's version of events.

"What she clearly said, and what she meant, was that, in previous election cycles--and she referenced first her husband's in 1992, and then 1968--we've had campaigns that have gone on into June and actually beyond," he said. "And so her reference to Senator Kennedy was a historical reference. The people in the room in South Dakota where she said this at the newspaper found nothing peculiar about it. She has said this before; there was no commentary or discussion about it when she'd said it before. And I think, unfortunately, her remarks have been blown out of proportion. She very quickly made clear what she meant. If she caused anyone any discomfort or pain--because it is obviously a very sensitive topic--she apologized. But she was talking about it in a historical context."

Still, Wolfson later added, he didn't believe Clinton owed Obama a personal apology.

"Her remarks were not about Senator Obama," Wolfson explained. "They had nothing to do with Senator Obama. And so, you know, there would be no reason for her to apologize to Senator Obama."