When a ‘gift’ can be risky to open

What should Trump do with Clin­ton’s D-word?

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Steve Peo­ples and Jill Colvin

WASHINGTON — A war of words over “de­plorables” is in­ten­si­fy­ing as Repub­li­cans and Democrats fight for po­lit­i­cal points over Hil­lary Clin­ton’s claim that many of Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers are racist, sex­ist and ho­mo­pho­bic.

Trump and his al­lies across the coun­try in­sisted Tues­day that the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee’s com­ments re­flect an out-oftouch elit­ist who looks down on work­ing-class vot­ers, akin to 2012 GOP nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney’s as­ser­tion that 47 per­cent of Amer­i­cans would never vote for him be­cause they were de­pen­dent on the govern­ment.

But Democrats — and even some Repub­li­cans — warned that this de­bate could back­fire on Trump, draw­ing new at­ten­tion to white su­prem­a­cists and hate groups at­tracted by his “Amer­ica first” mes­sage.

In­deed, for­mer KKK leader David Duke of­fered fresh praise for the way that Trump and run­ning mate Mike Pence are han­dling the con­tro­versy. But not all Repub­li­cans were pleased.

“Let’s re­mem­ber that, weird as it may seem, a lot of vot­ers are only just now tun­ing in, so they may not be aware of the fact that David Duke, var­i­ous KKK or­ga­ni­za­tions, the alt-right en masse, Vladimir Putin and other for­eign au­thor­i­tar­ian en­e­mies of Amer­ica — peo­ple who re­ally are de­plorable — are sup­port­ing Trump,” said Liz Mair, a Wash­ing­ton­based Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive and a vo­cal Trump critic.

Speak­ing to donors in New York City on Fri­day, Clin­ton had said that half of Trump’s sup­port­ers were in “a bas­ket of de­plorables,” a crowd she de­scribed as racist, sex­ist, ho­mo­pho­bic or xeno­pho­bic. Clin­ton later said she re­gret­ted ap­ply­ing that de­scrip­tion to “half” of Trump’s back­ers but stuck by her as­ser­tion that the GOP nom­i­nee has given a plat­form to “hate­ful views and voices.”

Trump and his team seized on the com­ments as his sup­port­ers across the coun­try em­braced a new ral­ly­ing cry.

“While my op­po­nent Some warn that the “de­plorables” de­bate could back­fire on Don­ald Trump, draw­ing at­ten­tion to white su­prem­a­cists and hate groups at­tracted by his “Amer­ica first” mes­sage. slan­ders you as de­plorable and ir­re­deemable, I call you hard­work­ing Amer­i­can pa­tri­ots,” Trump de­clared at a Clive, Iowa, rally.

In the crowd, one Trump sup­porter held a sign that read “I’m not ‘de­plorable.’ I’m just a hard-work­ing, tax-pay­ing Amer­i­can and proud of it!” An­other wore a home­made shirt that read “I’m with de­plorable.”

“It sums up what she thinks of Amer­i­can vot­ers: that we’re dumb and stupid and can’t make de­ci­sions for our­selves,” said Charles House, 78, of Ankeny, Iowa. “She looks down on us.”

In­di­ana Gov. Pence, Trump’s vice pres­i­den­tial run­ning mate, re­fused anew on Tues­day to say whether white su­prem­a­cist Duke was “de­plorable.” Pence has dis­avowed Duke, but said he was “not in the name-call­ing busi­ness.”

Duke, a for­mer KKK leader, was pleased with that. “The whole idea that they were try­ing to make Pence call me names, ba­si­cally, and he didn’t bite on that was a real pos­i­tive thing for all of us,” Duke said.

Democrats have wel­comed a de­bate that shines new light on some of the el­e­ments cheer­ing Trump’s can­di­dacy.

In Novem­ber, Clin­ton will need a strong turnout among Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s coali­tion of mi­nori­ties, women and mil­len­ni­als. Her cam­paign ar­gues that Trump will strug­gle to con­nect with such vot­ers if he’s viewed as fos­ter­ing white su­prem­a­cists, a group com­monly re­ferred to as the “alt-right.”

“Big­otry is de­plorable and I think she should stand by her guns,” said Sen. Shel­don White­house, D-R.I., a Clin­ton ally.

Vir­ginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who chaired Clin­ton’s 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, said the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee’s com­ments pale in

CUR­TIS COMP­TON/AT­LANTA JOUR­NAL-CON­STI­TU­TION

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