Donald Trump‘s supporters aren’t just “so smart,” he said during a campaign stop this weekend – they are so loyal that in fact he could “shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
The joke – made while the Republican presidential front-runner was speaking Saturday at Dordt College, in Sioux Center, Iowa – was met with laughter from the crowd.
“My people are so smart, and you know what else they say about my people, the polls? They say I have the most loyal people,” Trump, 69, said during his appearance, according to video of his remarks.
“Did you ever see that?” he continued. “Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible.”
To accompany his joke, Trump made the symbol of a gun with his fingers, and mimed pulling the trigger.
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Some on social media reacted with confusion, sarcasm or dismay at the joke’s invocation of gun violence.
Trump declined to answer CNN’s request for clarification on his joke.
PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach the Trump campaign for comment.
On Twitter afterward, Trump celebrated the “well received” speech.
“His audiences love [his comments]”. His opponents try to use it against him – but so far, to no avail,” NPR reporter Don Gonyea said. “I talked to some of his supporters and they say, ‘Yeah, sometimes he makes me cringe, but I still like him and I still think he’s the right thing for America.’ ”
Trump has continued to enjoy strong support in polling ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.
But his brash and aggressive campaign style has also stirred multiple controversies, such as when he proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.