Lemon raises Trump's 'racist rhetoric' to candidates after president's criticism

Lemon raises Trump's 'racist rhetoric' to candidates after president's criticism
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CNN anchor Don LemonDon Carlton LemonCNN's Don Lemon sued by Hamptons bartender over alleged assault Scarborough blasts 2020 Democrats for attacking Obama's policies more than Trump's Lemon raises Trump's 'racist rhetoric' to candidates after president's criticism MORE on Wednesday pressed Democratic presidential candidates on how they would address racial tensions in the country by noting the issue has been escalated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's "racist rhetoric."

Lemon asked multiple candidates about the topic hours after Trump bashed the debate moderator for bringing the president into questions about race a night earlier.

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"Why are you the best candidate to heal the racial divide that exists in this country today, which has been stoked by the president’s racist rhetoric," Lemon asked Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Hickenlooper expected to end presidential bid on Thursday MORE (D-Colo.).

Lemon asked former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D) how he would help struggling cities "after the president’s racist tweets attacking Baltimore and Congressman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDemocrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report Senior Trump officials accused of harassing, retaliating against career State Dept. employees Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe MORE."

"First of all the president is a racist and that was just one more example of it," Castro responded, before explaining he would invest in education opportunities for kids in those communities.

Trump took issue with Lemon's questioning a night earlier, when the moderator said the president "is pursuing a reelection strategy based in part, on racial division."

"CNN’s Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television, insinuated last night while asking a debate ‘question’ that I was a racist, when in fact I am ‘the least racist person in the world,'" Trump tweeted. "Perhaps someone should explain to Don that he is supposed to be neutral, unbiased & fair or is he too dumb (stupid) to understand that."

Lawmakers condemned Trump's comments as racist earlier this month after he told four congresswomen of color to "go back" to their countries. All four are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the country.

The president again drew allegations of racism over the weekend by repeatedly attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) and the majority-black Maryland district he represents.