Hillary Clinton on Saturday expressed regret for saying half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables” the previous evening ― but pledged to continue to call out the bigotry and racism of the Republican nominee.
“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 released by her campaign. She added that it was “deplorable” that Trump had hired former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, a champion of the so-called alt-right, and brought fringe racism and hatred into the mainstream.
“I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind,” the statement said.
Trump lost no time in denouncing the clarification. The nominee ― with no sense of irony whatsoever ― accused Clinton of showing “bigotry and hatred towards millions of Americans.”
“Isn’t it disgraceful that Hillary Clinton makes the worst mistake of the political season and instead of owning up to this grotesque attack on American voters, she tried to turn it around with a pathetic rehash of the words and insults used in her failing campaign,” Trump said. “For the first time in a long while, her true feelings came out, showing bigotry and hatred for millions of Americans.”
The dust-up began Friday, when Clinton responded to a question about Trump by saying, “To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophpobic, you name it,” she said. “Unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
Trump’s campaign seized on the remarks, saying they were condescending to the Americans who supported Trump. Trump tried to portray himself as a unifier on Saturday.
Among the groups the nominee has insulted during his campaign are Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims and women ― as Clinton herself noted in short order.
Trump claimed that Clinton’s remarks were her “47 percent moment,” referring to GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s claim in the 2012 presidential race that 47 percent of Americans would vote for Obama because they were dependent on government support.
Read Clinton’s full statement below.
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ ― that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together.’”
This article has been updated to include Clinton’s tweet and Trump’s subsequent statements.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.