Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has said American conservatives may have to resort to physical violence to protect their values from liberalism, should Hillary Clinton emerge victorious from the November presidential election.
“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” Mr Bevin, a Republican, told an audience of social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC on Saturday. “But that may, in fact, be the case.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence also spoke at the weekend summit, and their appearances overshadowed Mr Bevin’s, whose provocative remarks only started to gain attention after being more widely shared this week.
In his speech, he harked back to a quote by Thomas Jefferson, the third US President, who wrote in 1787 that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”.
Mr Bevin said: “Somebody asked me yesterday… ‘Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive, that we’d ever be able to recover as a nation?’ And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.
“I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”
Mr Bevin, who succeeded a two-term Democratic Governor last year after standing on a Tea Party-style platform, is not the first Republican to suggest a violent response to a Clinton presidency.
Last month Mr Trump suggested that a Supreme Court containing judges nominated by Ms Clinton might abolish the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr Trump said. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
On Monday Mr Bevin released a statement claiming his comments had been misconstrued and were, in fact, a reference to Americans serving in the military. “We have thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas and they need our full backing,” he said. “We cannot be complacent about the determination of radical Islamic extremists to destroy our freedoms. Nor can we allow apathy and indifference to allow our culture to crumble from within.”
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