Donald Trump was rushed off the stage at a campaign rally in Nevada Saturday, after a rally goer shouted an unarmed protester had a gun. The protester, Austyn Crites, didn’t have one.
Even so, immediately after the incident, Trump’s campaign surrogates — Donald Trump Jr. and the campaign’s communications aide Dan Scavino Jr. — baselessly billed the incident as an “assassination attempt” on Twitter, even suggesting it was the work of the Clinton campaign. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, chalked it up to heightened emotions — they were “rattled” watching the incident live, and assumed the worst. For that they are “excused,” she said.
But as Amir Tibon, a correspondent with Walla News, an Israeli media company, pointed out, this kind of response also reveals something about the Trump campaign that could prove dangerous in the White House.
A politician who blatantly lies by describing a peaceful protest as an "assasination attempt" will do the same to his opponents once elected— Amir Tibon (@amirtibon) November 6, 2016
In other words, the Trump campaign has a habit of quickly escalating incidents without evidence, and that could have adverse consequences on a global scale.
Presidents are required to act with care and caution
The most basic and simple understanding of the presidency is that it is a job with an enormous number of responsibilities. As Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote, Trump’s presidential run is not “a joke,” just as “he's not a clown.”
He's a man who could soon be making decisions of war and peace, who would decide which regulations are enforced and which are lifted, who would be responsible for nominating Supreme Court justices and representing America in the community of nations. This is not political entertainment. This is politics.
It is also a role that requires an incredible amount of diplomacy — that actions are carried out with heed and caution. These are among the most fundamental temperamental requirements for a president.
But throughout this election cycle, we have seen Trump’s campaign act with incredible rashness. They have shared memes symbolizing intolerance, repeated baseless conspiracy theories as facts, and denied Trump has done things he has clearly done. Trump himself has painted incidents of violence as acts of terrorism before investigating law enforcement officials had gathered enough evidence to do so themselves.
As Tibon notes, this incident at the rally indicates something troubling for how a Trump presidency might act. And that there is no indication that he would change should he be elected.