When a ‘gift’ can be risky to open
What should Trump do with Clinton’s D-word?
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