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, NY Times to host next Democratic debate in October CNN climate town hall finishes last in viewers among cable news broadcasts CNN correspondent: We could do a climate town hall every day and it wouldn't be enough 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 TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty 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 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Burden in tonight's debate is on Democratic realists 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the September Democratic debate 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 CummingsPence extends olive branch to Cummings after Trump's Baltimore attacks Infrastructure needed to treat addiction as chronic disease doesn't exist GOP retreat creates WiFi password blasting socialism 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.