Trump’s fans level of fury went from intense to nuclear after Hillary Clinton offered a clarification about her labeling of half of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables” that made their candidate come across even worse.
Yesterday, during an off the cuff exchange at a fundraiser, Clinton (correctly, as it turned out) noted that many of Trump’s supporters are – by any metric – awful:
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton said. “Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”
Republicans were scandalized. Pundits were sent into fits. Trump was livid. But pollsters were like, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” After all, Trump fans have spent the summer openly boasting that they believe Obama is a Muslim (59 percent), ending slavery was a bad idea (20 percent), and that black people are inherently more “violent” than whites (49 percent).
On top of the data, anecdotes and video abound. Trump’s rallies are like a who’s who of “deplorables” engaging in disgusting behavior. The New York Times even created a supercut from all the footage of slurs, violence, and stupidity their reporters saw at Trump events.
So the major sticking point with many reporters was over the details. Clinton said “half” of Trump’s supporters were racists xenophobes. How does she define “half?” Are millions of people really that bad? The data suggests “yes.” But apparently sensing a distraction from the issues at hand, Clinton released a statement clarifying her remarks.
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ – that was wrong.”
But before Trump fans start celebrating, the rest of her statement was spent brutally calling out Trump for the “deplorable” racism, xenophobia, and hate-mongering he’s made a career of. She pulled no punches.
“…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.”
The pundits and fact-checkers will have very little to argue about there. Trump has unarguably done all of those disgusting things and then some. What’s more, his campaign is filled to the brim with alt-right racists and white nationalists. Trump pays these people to be in his campaign. There is no denying that he likes their ideas.
By keeping the spotlight squarely on the Trump campaign’s rampant misogyny, racism and bigotry, Hillary makes a clear contrast for American voters to pick from. And the only thing Trump can do is meekly defend members of the KKK and neo-Nazi hate groups and feign outrage that someone dared call them out.
So give it to Hillary’s team. There are worse ways to win a presidency.
Featured image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images