Donald Trump has approvingly promoted a video of a right-wing activist claiming that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat”.
The US president shared the footage on Thursday morning after Cowboys For Trump posted it on Twitter.
The conservative campaign group’s video centres on Couy Griffin, an Otero County, New Mexico commissioner and Cowboys For Trump founder. He is seen to tell a supportive audience that he has “come to the conclusion that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat”.
Amid cheers and whooping from his audience, Mr Griffin adds hastily that he did not intend his remarks to be taken literally.
“I don’t say that in the physical sense,” says Mr Griffin, “because I can already see the videos getting edited where it says, ‘Oh my God, murder Democrats’. No, I say that in the political sense because the Democrat agenda and policy is anti-American right now.”
The provocateur, who in February was pictured with Mr Trump in the Oval Office, continues: “Our country’s not coming to a place if you love or hate Donald Trump. Our country’s coming to a place if you love or hate America, because that’s what it’s boiling down to.
“As far as Democrats go, you have some great conservative candidates. We need to have the majorities in the House and the Senate. It’s the only way that we’re going to put the brakes on an out-of-control governor. Sometimes you have to hit very rock bottom in order to make real change.”
Mr Griffin was speaking at a church in New Mexico on 17 May, according to US media reports. New Mexico’s governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.
His comment attracted widespread critiicsm including from GOP organisations. “We value the personal and political worth of all New Mexicans and to make such an outrageous statement is contrary to the pro-life Republican Party platform,” the New Mexico Young Republicans said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal.
Mr Trump thanked Cowboys for Trump for their video on Thursday morning. “See you in New Mexico!,” he added.
The group says it campaigns with “like-minded Americans who are concerned about the direction of our country.”
“We believe that the liberal progressive agenda is drastically moving us away from the identifying principles that make us proud to be American,” reads a statement on its website. Those principles include securing the southern border with Mexico, “protecting the unborn”, and preserving 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms.
Mr Trump’s recent uses of Twitter have included baselessly accusing a television presenter of murder and suggesting he will close down social media companies if they “censor” right-wing opinions. The latter threat came after Twitter applied a fact-checking notice to one of his posts.
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