New York: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said on Friday that half the supporters of her Republican rival Donald Trump belonged in a “basket of deplorables” of people who were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”.
Speaking at an evening fundraiser in New York, the former US secretary of state said Trump had given voice to hateful rhetoric from such individuals through his behaviour as a candidate for the White House.
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables’,” Clinton said. “Unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
Some of those people were irredeemable, she said, but they did not represent America.
Trump responded on Saturday, tweeting: “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!”
Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
September 10, 2016
Clinton’s comments drew a rebuke from Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager of the Republican nominee, who said in a message on Twitter that Clinton had insulted millions of Americans, sentiments shared by his running mate Mike Pence.
“Hillary Clinton’s low opinion of the people who support this campaign should be denounced in the strongest possible terms,” Pence, the Indiana governor, a Republican, said in a speech on Saturday at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington.
“They’re hard working Americans. Farmers. Coal miners. Teachers. Veterans. Members of our law enforcement community.
“Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve your respect,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Many of Clinton’s fundraisers have been closed to the media, but her Friday remarks, preceding a performance by singer Barbra Streisand, were open to journalists.
Tickets, targeted at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters, ranged from $US1200 ($1590) for a standard seat to $US250,000 or more to be listed as a host. The event drew a sold-out crowd of 1000, her campaign said.
“What’s truly deplorable isn’t just that Hillary Clinton made an inexcusable mistake in front of wealthy donors and reporters happened to be around to catch it, it’s that Clinton revealed just how little she thinks of the hard-working men and women of America,” Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill noted a previous speech in which she accused Trump of embracing a brand of US political conservatism associated with white nationalism and nativism known as the “alt right” movement.
“Obviously not everyone supporting Trump is part of the alt right, but alt right leaders are with Trump,” Merrill said on Twitter. “And their supporters appear to make up half his crowd, when you observe the tone of his events.”
The Clinton campaign later sought to explain her “basket of deplorable” remark, saying she was referring to people who actively back him, such as donors, endorsers and people at his rallies, not everyone who plans to vote for him.
Streisand performed a version of the Stephen Sondheim song Send in the Clowns that parodied the New York businessman.