Donald Trump has condemned the Democrat Presidential flag bearer, Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that half of his supporters fall into a “basket of deplorables,” calling it a vicious slander that disqualifies her from seeking the presidency.
In a blistering speech before a National Guard convention in Baltimore on Monday, the Republican presidential nominee called Clinton’s remarks “vile words” that were meant to “slander, smear and demean” average Americans from “every walk of life” who are backing his White House bid.
“The disdain that Hillary Clinton expressed towards millions of decent Americans disqualifies her from public service,” Trump declared. “You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter. You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens.”
The celebrity businessman turned political candidate called on Clinton to fully apologize for her remarks, calling it “the most explicit attack on an American voter ever spoken by a major party presidential nominee.”
“If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, then I don’t see how she can credibly campaign,” Trump said.
Clinton sparked controversy Friday when she took aim at Trump supporters during a private New York fundraiser, in which singer Barbra Streisand also mocked the GOP nominee in word and song. “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right?” Clinton said at the event. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic. You name it.”
Responding to a firestorm of criticism, Clinton later clarified her remarks, saying in a statement issued Saturday that she regretted using the word “half.”
But that wasn’t enough for Trump, who suggested Monday that Clinton’s remarks weren’t simply a gaffe but a reflection of a deeply entrenched political insider who looks down on average Americans.
“Hillary Clinton spoke with hatred and derision for the people who make this country run. She spoke with contempt for the people who thanklessly follow the rules, pay their taxes, and scratch out a living for their families,” Trump declared.
At the same time, the GOP nominee — who has been criticised for his own divisive rhetoric during the campaign, including his attacks on illegal immigration and Muslims — cast himself as someone who can unite the country.
Echoing conciliatory remarks he’s made in other recent speeches, Trump said he was running to give “voice to the voiceless” and to represent the “forgotten men and women of this country.” “I am running so that the powerful can no longer beat upon the powerless,” he said.
“Whether you vote for me, or whether you vote for someone else,” he added, “I will be your greatest champion. I will not let you down.”