Lamenting Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE’s campaign as a takeover of the GOP by a “radical fringe,” Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE on Thursday accused Trump of embracing racial dog whistles and conspiracy theorists.
Clinton highlighted Trump's decision to bring in Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his campaign CEO as proof that the "alt-right" — a sect of hardcore conservatives usually associated with white nationalism — has polluted both Trump's presidential campaign and the party.
"The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump Campaign represents a landmark achievement for the alt-right. A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party," Clinton said in Reno, Nev.
"All of this adds up to something we’ve never seen before. Of course, there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone — until now."
Clinton ticked off several conspiracy theories Trump has entertained during his campaign: Suggesting Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant More than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State MORE’s father had involvement with President Kennedy’s assassination; claiming he saw Muslims in New Jersey cheering the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; and speculating that she’s hiding a grave illness.
And she tied him to other theories by allies, including radio host Alex Jones’s claims that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job and that the 2012 Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting was staged.
The speech pushed Clinton’s case that Trump’s connection to alt-right ideology and his past actions disqualify him from office.
She spoke about a Justice Department investigation from his early days in real estate that found applications from minority tenants were “marked with a C for colored and then rejected.”
And she dredged up his embrace of the “birther” movement that questioned President Obama’s citizenship.
“A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military,” Clinton said.
“If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?”
Clinton specifically hammered Bannon’s work at Breitbart News, reading aloud controversial headlines from the outlet, including:
• “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
• “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”
• “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield”
“Just imagine Donald Trump reading that and thinking: ‘This is what I need more of in my campaign,’ ” she said.
Clinton cast Trump as a traitor to the GOP, contrasting him with past Republicans who fought against racism.
She noted 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole calling on racists to leave the party, President George W. Bush embracing peaceful Muslims after Sept. 11, and 2008 GOP nominee John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE interrupting a supporter questioning Obama’s birthplace and defending him as a “decent person.”
“We need that kind of leadership again. Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough,’ including a lot of Republicans,” Clinton said.
“This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump. It’s a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.”
The speech pushed back against Trump’s recent appeals to black and Latino voters, including several statements that softened his rhetoric on illegal immigration.
Clinton hit Trump for using the “guise of outreach to African-Americans” to describe black communities “in insulting and ignorant terms.”
“It takes a lot of nerve to ask people he’s ignored and mistreated for decades," she said. " ‘What do you have to lose?’ The answer is everything."
“Trump’s lack of knowledge or experience or solutions would be bad enough. But what he’s doing here is more sinister. Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters.”
And she swatted aside the speculation that Trump may moderate on immigration.
“Don’t be distracted by his latest attempts to muddy the waters. He may have some new people putting new words in his mouth, but we all know where he stands,” she said, adding that he would form a “deportation force” and halt the “bedrock constitutional principle” of birthright citizenship.”
Clinton spoke moments after Trump wrapped up a campaign rally in New Hampshire where he offered a pre-emptive strike at her criticism.
“I don’t want to dignify them by dwelling on them too much, but a response is required for the sake of all decent voters she is trying to smear,” he said.
“Voters are used to the old game where failed politicians like Hillary Clinton falsely smear Republicans with charges of racism. Republicans then back down. Democrats then continue to push policies that are devastating to communities of color,” he said.
“We must break this corrupt cycle. And we are going to break it beginning today.”
Updated at 4:17 p.m.