Milwaukee Country Sheriff David Clarke apparently believes that what does not kill a presidential campaign, only makes it stronger.
GOP nominee Donald Trump has been dealing with the fallout of leaked audio from an "Access Hollywood" interview with Bully Bush, in which he made lewd comments about women and spoke casually about sexual assault, for two weeks. And many pundits are already predicting that his campaign will not recover. But Clarke says the scandal has only galvanized Trump's supporters.
"We’re in such a lewd place now with this campaign. It sickens the American people," Clarke told Mike Gousha Sunday on Madison, Wisconsin, TV station WKOW. "[The tape scandal has] rallied his base, including women who support Trump. They came out swinging, came out with pitchforks and torches to support their candidate. Some of the stuff he said was inappropriate. But it was 11 years ago. Why are they using that now?"
Trump has plummeted in the polls since the release of the tapes. He is losing to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by an average of seven points, according to Real Clear Politics.
Clarke reiterated his "pitchforks and torches" rhetoric during a Trump campaign event Monday, in which he echoed Trump's recent suggestions that the November election will be rigged and that Trump supporters must step in to save the country.
"They want you to give up folks. They want you to say 'to hell with it, it's fixed. It's rigged.' And it is. But they want you to say 'to hell with it. I'm not going to participate.' That's what they're hoping for. It's not going to work. It is not going to work," Clarke told supporters in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "Stay strong. Find new voters. Get them to the polls. Like I said, and I’ll continue to say it, it is pitchfork and torches time in America."
Clarke has nearly 30 years of experience with the Milwaukee Police Department and gained prominence in the wake of a July shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that left three police officers dead and three more wounded. In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon following the shooting, Clarke criticized the intentions and nature of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose supporters had been protesting the death of an unarmed black man, Alton Sterling, at hands of police in Baton Rouge days earlier.
"I've been watching this for two years. I've predicted this," Clarke told Lemon. "This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer."
Clarke, who is black, blamed the message and protests of Black Lives Matter supporters for the shooting and claimed there was no data to back up their claims that African-Americans' experience with law enforcement is any different than those of white Americans. He has previously referred to Black Lives Matter as a "subversive movement" that seeks to overthrow the government and "black slime" that needs to be "eradicated from the American society and the American culture."
"This anti-cop sentiment from this hateful ideology called Black Lives Matter has fueled this rage against the American police officer," Clarke said on CNN.
Clarke spoke about public safety at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July and has been a regular surrogate for Trump since the convention.