Trump-Clinton trading barbs over Orlando

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on Wednesday questioned why the father of the Orlando nightclub gunman is supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Seddique Mateen, whose son killed 49 patrons at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando June 12, was prominently visible on a rally stage behind Clinton August 8 in Kissimmee, Florida, just 30 minutes from the Orlando tragedy site.

On Good Morning America, Giuliani suggested Mateen’s presence there was deliberate and meaningful.

“This is a guy who supports the Taliban, who’s anti-American, who himself has supported terrorist organizations, who has said that God is gonna punish homosexuals. He is a homophobe of the worst kind and he is a very, very radical Islamic extremist. What’s drawing him to Hillary Clinton? People should ask that question. What brings him to Hillary Clinton? I believe it’s her soft stance on Islamic extremist terrorism.”

The Clinton campaign responded quickly, noting that the campaign did not invite Mateen to the open rally. The campaign went further, disavowing Mateen and Mateen’s apparent support for Clinton.

A Palm Beach NBC affiliate interviewed Mateen after the event. He told WPTV, “Hillary Clinton is good for United States versus Donald Trump, who has no solutions.”

“It’s a Democratic party,,” said Mateen, “so everyone can join.”

The questions about Mateen’s visibility at the Clinton rally came just one day after Trump initiated his latest controversy by saying that “Second Amendment people” might have a way of stopping Clinton’s judiciary choices. Many people interpreted that to mean Trump was advocating someone shoot Clinton or her judicial court appointees.

Trump’s campaign quickly explained that the candidate was advocating that “Second Amendment people” go out and vote.

Trump made his remark in the context of saying that Clinton “essentially abolish the Second Amendment.” Clinton has never expressed that position. The campaign also noted that a president can’t unilaterally abolish any amendment of the constitution.

Meanwhile, some LGBT activists are criticizing Trump for reportedly agreeing to appear in Orlando tomorrow (August 11) at an event organized by advocates of a “conversion treatment” against homosexuality. The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement criticizing Trump and Senator Marco Rubio for agreeing to appear before the Liberty Counsel’s Florida Renewal Project event. Trump’s name does not appear on the organization’s invitation, but an Evangelicals for Trump group says “Trump is planning a surprise visit Thursday to a major gathering of evangelical pastors in Florida, where he will describe how he will repeal a federal law viewed by many Christians as gagging the clergy from expressing political viewpoints.” Specifically, the group says, Trump will support repealing a 1954 tax law that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or advocating the defeat of political candidates.

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