Retweet doesn't equal endorsement unless you're the President of the United States

Story highlights

  • Trump retweeted an edited video showing him swinging a golf club and appearing to hit Hillary Clinton with a golf ball
  • The tweet comes as Trump prepares to head to New York for the United Nations General Assembly

Washington (CNN)A retweet may not always equal an endorsement, but when you're a public officeholder, it certainly can carry a lot of weight. 

That's what made President Donald Trump's retweet of a GIF Sunday morning that showed him swinging a golf club and appearing to hit Hillary Clinton with a golf ball so stunning.
The GIF puts together footage of Trump, wearing a red cap, taking a swing on a golf course, with footage of Clinton tripping and falling as she boarded a plane while serving as secretary of state in 2011. The edited footage makes it appear as though the ball hit Clinton in the back, causing her to fall.
    "Donald Trump's amazing golf swing #CrookedHillary," the Twitter user whom Trump retweeted wrote in the image's caption.
    For any president or public official, retweeting an image that seems to make light of violence against women would be questionable.
    But for this President, the retweet follows a pattern of behavior in which Trump has either seemed to find it acceptable to joke about violence against women and those he disagrees with, or to make not-so-subtle comments that seem to incite it.
    This is the same President who last month -- days after a driver ran into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia -- retweeted a cartoon of a train running over a person with a CNN logo covering the person's head.
    This is the same President who in one of his 2016 campaign rallies said he wanted to punch a protester who had been ejected from a campaign event in the face.
    This is the same President who in 2005 was recorded bragging about forcing himself on women and grabbing their genitals, comments he initially dismissed as "locker room banter."
    This is the same President who in June denigrated MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and claimed in tweets that she had been "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when the two saw each other at Mar-a-Lago.
    Some will argue -- as former campaign strategist David Urban did on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday -- that Trump's retweet shouldn't be taken seriously. 
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    "The President speaks directly to folks," Urban told CNN's Dana Bash. "I'm not going to judge what's appropriate or inappropriate of the President. Retweets don't equal endorsements."
    That's contrary to the message then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer sent in June when he acknowledged that the President's tweets are indeed official White House statements.
    "The President is the President of the United States, so they are considered official statements by the President of the United States," Spicer said then.
    It also goes against what then-candidate Trump told a CNN reporter in August 2015 when asked whether he endorsed what he retweets.
    "Well I do retweets, and I mean, to a certain extent, I do, yeah, I think that's right," he said. "Do you want me to say no? You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason."
    The President, in an official statement, found it acceptable to joke about committing violence against a woman, not to mention the fact that she is his one-time political rival. 
    By that logic, we must consider what Trump retweeted on Sunday morning seriously.
    Perhaps a single retweet doesn't matter. But this one is not an aberration.