In Context: Hillary Clinton and the 'basket of deplorables'
The Donald Trump campaign is slamming Hillary Clinton for saying that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables."
Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016, Clinton said that Trump’s supporters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic." Trump said the remarks showed "her true contempt for everyday Americans."
We wanted to present Clinton’s comments in context to let readers judge for themselves. We also include her subsequent statement on her comments.
Clinton began the night with a standard welcome before criticizing Trump and the types of judges he might appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court if he were elected. She then noted that she had "a special commitment" to LGBT community and spoke in support of gay rights:
"In too many places still, LGBT Americans are singled out for harassment and violence. You can get married on Saturday, post your pictures on Sunday and get fired on Monday. That's why we've got to continue the forward march of progress."
"And we cannot do it alone. I cannot do it alone. I'm not like Donald Trump, who says, 'I alone can fix it.' I've never quite figured out what it is he alone can fix. But that's not what you'll hear from me. I think we have to do this together. So, together we're gonna pass the Equality Act to guarantee full equality. We're going to put comprehensive quality affordable healthcare within reach for more people, including for mental health and addiction. We're going to take on youth homelessness, and as my wonderful, extraordinary, great daughter said, we are going to end the cruel and dangerous practice of conversion therapy. We're going to keep working toward an AIDS-free generation, a goal that I set as secretary of state, and with your help we're going to pass comprehensive gun laws. ..."
"I know there are only 60 days left to make our case -- and don't get complacent, don't see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he's done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. 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 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
"But the other basket -- and I know this because I see friends from all over America here -- I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas -- as well as, you know, New York and California -- but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well."
"And what I hope is that in addition to your extraordinary generosity, you will go to our website, hillaryclinton.com, or text to join at 47246 to see how else you can get involved."
Clinton continued to ask people to get involved with her campaign, then introduced singer Barbra Streisand.
The next day, after facing criticism from the Trump campaign and others, Clinton issued this statement:
"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.’ "