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: 'Blow up the entire system' remark taken out of context CNN's Lemon: 'We're going to have to blow up the entire system' if Democrats win back White House, Senate Scaramucci to Lemon: Trump 'doubling down' on downplaying virus 'should scare' viewers 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 TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate 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 BennetOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Next crisis, keep people working and give them raises 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 CummingsWomen of color flex political might Black GOP candidate accuses Behar of wearing black face in heated interview Overnight Health Care: US won't join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: 'Insufficient data' to show treatment touted by Trump works 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.