Trump wants apology for Clinton ‘deplorables’ remark

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Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

BALTIMORE, Maryland — Donald Trump pounced Monday on Hillary Clinton for calling half of his supporters a “basket of deplorables” late last week, launching a new attack ad and arguing on the stump that the remark disqualifies Clinton from the presidency.

The Republican nominee, speaking Monday at the National Guard Association’s annual conference, called on Clinton to apologize for and retract her remarks, arguing that she had “slandered” millions of Americans. Trump’s outrage Monday was a significant political statement for a candidate who has repeatedly offended millions of Americans throughout his controversial campaign.

“The disdain that Hillary Clinton expressed toward millions of Americans disqualifies her from public service. You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter,” Trump said. “You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens.”

Trump, who has not apologized for any of his political attacks or offensive statements throughout his presidential campaign, appeared shocked that Clinton had not yet apologized for her comments and called on her to do so.

“Hillary Clinton has not apologized to those she slandered. In fact, she hasn’t backed down at all,” Trump said. “If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, I don’t see how she can credibly campaign any further.”

Clinton expressed “regret” Saturday for saying that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorable — including calling them racists, xenophobes and Islamophobes — remarks she made at a fundraiser Friday night as well as in an interview earlier in the week.

“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong,” Clinton said in a statement in which she vowed to continue to call out the “bigotry” in Trump’s campaign.

Clinton’s national press secretary Brian Fallon responded to Trump’s statement Monday, saying “the larger point of what she said on Friday remains true and it’s something we’re not going to apologize for.”

“That Donald Trump continues to not just condone but welcome, promote and lift up, divisive, hate-filled elements in this country that he’s giving a platform with his campaign,” Fallon told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “The idea that somebody is running a campaign that is engaging in this kind of hate-filled demagoguery in 2016 is deplorable.”

Vice President Joe Biden defended Clinton on the campaign trail in North Carolina, saying she gets a bum rap and that if Trump were held to her standard, then “He’d be in trouble.”

Trump’s condemnation of Clinton’s comments come less than a month after he expressed regret for sometimes saying “the wrong thing” over the course of his campaign, during which he has offended Hispanics, Muslims, disabled Americans and veterans.

Earlier on Monday, Trump argued on Fox News that Clinton’s comment about his supporters was the “biggest mistake of the political season.” And in an ad backed by a $2 million ad buy in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, Trump’s campaign blasts Clinton for “viciously demonizing hard-working people.”

Trump, in his most extensive repudiation of Clinton’s comments, attacked Clinton on several fronts, arguing that her comments reinforced her status as an “insider” and displayed her “sense of arrogance and entitlement” and said Clinton’s comments showed she “divides people into baskets as though they were objects, not human beings.”

“She revealed herself to be a person who looks down on the proud citizens of our country as subjects for her to rule over,” Trump said.

The Republican nominee also told “Fox and Friends” earlier Monday that he couldn’t believe the “basket of deplorables” remark when he first heard it.

“At first I thought it wasn’t within the realm of possible that she said it,” he said. “She doubled up, because it was said with such anger, such unbelievable anger, and I think this is the biggest mistake of the political season. I really do. When I saw this in its full form, and I saw the anger with which she said it, the way she spoke, I think it’s the single biggest mistake of the political season.”

At about the same time, the campaign released a new ad blasting Clinton for the comments.

In the ad, a narrator hits Clinton for making the comment while “speaking to wealthy donors” before playing video of Clinton’s remarks. “People like you…you…and you…’Deplorable,'” the narrator says over video of Trump supporters.

“You know what’s deplorable? Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing hard-working people like you,” the ad closes.

Trump kicked off his campaign by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” and then soon thereafter dismissed Sen. John McCain’s years of imprisonment as a prisoner of war, saying he liked “people who weren’t captured.”

Trump later called for a ban on all Muslims and said “Islam hates us” and has since said a US federal judge was inherently biased against him because of his Mexican heritage, which the Republican speaker of the House called the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

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