Donald Trump on Monday delivered a sharp rebuke to Hillary Clinton’s assertion that “half” of the Republican nominee’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables.”
During a Monday address to the National Guard Association Conference in Baltimore, Trump said he was “deeply shocked and alarmed” to hear the Democratic nominee “slander, smear, and demean these wonderful, amazing people.”
“Our support comes from every part of America, and every walk of life,” he said. “We have the support of cops and soldiers, carpenters and welders, the young and the old, and millions of working-class families who just want a better future.”
“These were the people Hillary Clinton so viciously demonized,” he continued, according to prepared remarks. “These were among the countless Americans that Hillary Clinton called deplorable, irredeemable and un-American. She called these patriotic men and women every vile name in the book – she called them racist, sexist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic. She called them a ‘basket of deplorables’ in both a speech and an interview. She divides people into baskets as though they were objects, not human beings.”
Clinton said in her remarks – delivered on Friday at an LGBT for Hillary gala in New York City – that the tone of Trump’s campaign had emboldened some of the most extreme groups in America.
“And he has lifted them up,” Clinton said. “He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people – now have 11 million.”
“He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric,” she added, referring to the multiple times the real-estate mogul had engaged with the alt-right.
The Democratic presidential nominee dedicated an entire speech last month to calling out alt-right groups – a portion of Trump’s support that believes the Republican nominee would implement its heavily racialized agenda.
But after facing swift backlash, Clinton said in a statement that she regretted claiming that “half” of Trump’s support fell into that group, calling her comments “grossly generalistic.”
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She stood by her comments that Trump’s message was still catering to such groups, however, saying his platform was built “largely on prejudice and paranoia” and had “given a national platform to hateful views and voices.”
“As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hardworking Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them,” she said.
On Monday, Trump said Clinton’s donors “all had a good laugh” at the comments.
“They were laughing at the very people who pave the roads she drives on, paint the buildings she speaks in, and keep the lights on in her auditorium,” he said. “Hillary Clinton is an insider, supported by powerful insiders, attacking Americans who have no political power.”
“Hillary Clinton spoke with hatred and derision for the people who make this country run,” he continued. “She spoke with contempt for the people who thanklessly follow the rules, pay their taxes, and scratch out a living for their families.”
He said the comments revealed Clinton’s “true thoughts” that she’s “above each and every one of you,” adding that the remark was “disqualifying.”
Trump also said that Clinton is only representing the “top 10%,” although he was supposed to say the “top one-tenth of 1%,” according to the prepared remarks.
“You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter,” he said. “You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens. Hillary Clinton still hasn’t apologized to those she slandered. In fact, she hasn’t backed down at all – she’s doubled down on her campaign of conspiracy and contempt.”
“If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, then I don’t see how she can credibly campaign,” he continued. “Let’s be clear. These were not offhand comments from Hillary Clinton. These were not stray remarks in an interview, or an accidental choice of words. These were lengthy, planned, and prepared remarks – it was perhaps the most explicit attack on the American voter ever spoken by a major-party presidential nominee.”
Trump added that the “vile words” were used to “bully and intimidate” his supporters.
“People who want their immigration laws enforced and their borders secured are not racists,” he said. “They are patriotic Americans of all backgrounds who want their jobs and families protected. People who warn about radical Islamic terrorism are not Islamophobes. They are decent American citizens who want to uphold our tolerant values and keep our country safe. People who support the police, and who want crime reduced, are not prejudiced. They are concerned and loving citizens whose hearts break every time an innocent child is lost to preventable violence.”