Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE ripped Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE on Monday for describing some of his supporters as racists and bigots, saying the remarks disqualify her from serving in the White House.
Speaking at the National Guard Association’s yearly conference in Baltimore, Trump cast Clinton as an elitist whose remarks reveal a deep-seated disdain for ordinary Americans.
The GOP nominee said Clinton must fully retract her comments or drop out of the race.
“The disdain that Hillary Clinton expressed for millions of decent Americans disqualifies her from public service,” Trump said. “You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter, and she does. 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,” he continued. “She’s doubled down on her campaign’s conspiracy and contempt. If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, I don’t see how she can credibly campaign any further.”
The Trump campaign is aggressively embracing that line of attack, as polls show a tight race 57 days out from the election and as Clinton, the Democratic nominee, takes time away from the trail to recover from pneumonia.
The former secretary of State had a scary moment over the weekend when she left a 9/11 memorial after falling ill. Video of Clinton’s departure shows her knees buckling and aides lifting her by the arms into a van as her feet drag on the street.
After several hours of speculation over Clinton’s condition, the campaign released a statement from her doctor saying she had been diagnosed with a respiratory infection on Friday — the same day she caused an uproar for remarks at a New York fundraiser in which she said “half” of Trump’s supporters are “irredeemable.”
“Just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton said to laughter and cheers.
“The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it,” she continued. “And, unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable. But thankfully they are not America.”
Those remarks have been compared by some to former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s dismissal in 2012 of “47 percent” of Americans who don’t take responsibility for their lives, and President Obama’s remarks in 2008 about the “bitter” Americans who “cling to guns or religion.”
Liberals have argued that Clinton is merely guilty of inartfully expressing an uncomfortable truth about Trump’s racially charged rhetoric, which has attracted extremist elements.
The Trump campaign believes Clinton’s remarks represent a game-changing gaffe and intends to focus on them by framing the former first lady as hopelessly out of touch.
People who are worried about radical Islamic terror are not “Islamophobes,” Trump argued, and those who are interested in reducing crime are not “prejudiced,” he said.
“While Hillary Clinton lives a sequestered life behind gates and walls and guards, she mocks and demeans hardworking Americans who only want their family to enjoy a fraction of the security enjoyed by our politicians,” the real estate mogul said in prepared remarks. “After months of hiding from the press, Hillary Clinton has revealed her true thoughts. She revealed herself to be a person who looks down on the proud citizens of our country as subjects for her rule.”
Trump and his surrogates blanketed the morning cable shows on Monday to make that case.
The campaign has also cut Clinton’s comments into an attack ad, putting $2 million behind a spot that will run in four battleground states.
Clinton has walked back the remarks to an extent, saying she was wrong to be so “grossly generalistic.”
“I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong,” she said in a statement.
However, Clinton and Democrats are happy to continue debating the substance of her remarks, believing it will be a winning issue for them.
In her statement walking back the comments, Clinton also doubled down on her attacks against Trump for running what she described as a campaign designed to appeal to racists and bigots.
“What's really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values,” Clinton said.