Clinton regrets calling 'half' of Trump's backers 'deplorable'
'To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,' Clinton had said. 'Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.' Photograph: (Getty)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton expressed regret after her comment on Trump's supporters prompted a negative reaction from Republicans.
Clinton was apologetic about calling Trump's supporters 'deplorable' but asserted that she will call out the 'bigotry and racist rhetoric' in her rival's campaign.
"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. "I won't stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign."
"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it," Clinton had described Trump's supporters at a fundraiser.
Clinton added that the other half of Trump's supporters could be described as 'hard working Americans' who were looking for change in any form because the economy or the government were not working in their favour. The 68-year-old further urged her supporters to empathise with them (Trump supporters).
She added, "And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean- spirited rhetoric."
Clinton said that some of those people were ' irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America'.
''I think it (Clinton's statement) will cost her at the Polls,'' Donald Trump tweeted. Another tweet said that even though Clinton said 'horrible things' about his supporters he 'respects them all'.
While Hillary said horrible things about my supporters, and while many of her supporters will never vote for me, I still respect them all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2016
Clinton's statement should be denounced in the 'strongest terms possible', Trump's running mate Mike Pence said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.
"Let me just say, from the bottom of my heart, Hillary, they are not a basket of anything," Pence added. "They are Americans and they deserve your respect."
Basketeer Vendetta, a Twitter user, posted a picture of Trump supporters wearing campaign t-shirts and hats with the caption: "Proud to be part of the #BasketOfDeplorables with my fellow Americans."
Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who has been highly critical of Trump, said Clinton might have crossed an important line.
"When you are running for President, you are running to represent all Americans, even the ones you think are deplorable," said Navarro.
Clinton's press secretary sent out a tweet trying to clarify the candidate's position.
Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine told The Washington Post that Clinton did not need to apologise for her statement.
"This election is about beating back bigotry and hate," said Bakari Sellers, a CNN contributor, said in an interview. "Whether it's 10 per cent or 50 per cent, Donald Trump and his supporters have elevated it. If you're not a bigot, her comments shouldn't offend you."
(WION with inputs from agencies)