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Trump could ‘shoot multiple people’ and his base wouldn't care, Sabato says

Dominique Fortes
Trump in a death spiral: Ben White

The recent revelations about Donald Trump's taxes will not hurt him with his base, a top political analyst said Monday.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said there is "not a chance" that Trump's huge reported 1995 loss and possible years of getting shielded from income taxes would affect how his strong supporters view him. He said Trump's statement that he could "stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody" without losing voters may not have taken it far enough.

"I actually think he could shoot multiple people and, as long as his aim was good, there would be no problem with his base," Sabato told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, as most recent candidates have, claiming he cannot do so because of an ongoing audit. On Saturday, The New York Times reported on Trump's 1995 tax records, which showed a $916 million loss and that Trump could have been legally shielded from personal income taxes for as many as 18 years after that.

The report gave another headache to the Trump campaign, as it threatened the central thesis of his campaign, that he is a successful businessman. It also came after a tough debate for Trump and subsequent sparring with a former Miss Universe who aligned herself with Hillary Clinton.

Sabato believes that while this issue is highly unlikely to detract from Trump's current base, it is definitely an issue for the Clinton campaign to capitalize on as it attempts to court voters.

Commentators have mentioned that Clinton needs to make herself more relatable, among other things, if she wants to win the election. Sabato said "this is a great issue for average people who pay a sizable slice of their very small salaries to the federal government and look, this is something that only the super wealthy can take advantage of."

This issue could be exactly what Clinton needs to solidify support in those lingering sections of her coalition, he said.

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images