NEW YORK – Hillary Clinton told an audience of donors Friday night that half of Donald Trump’s supporters fall into “the basket of deplorables,” meaning people who are racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic.
In an effort to explain the support behind Trump, Clinton went on to describe the rest of Trump supporters as people who are looking for change in any form because of economic anxiety and urged her supporters to empathize with them.
“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.”
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 went on to say that some of these people were “irredeemable” and “not America.”
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, quickly pounced on the remarks.
“One day after promising to be aspirational & uplifting, Hillary insults millions of Americans. #desperate,” she tweeted.
She later added, “Hillary, placing people in ‘baskets’, slandering them but admitting after 8 yrs, they are “desperate for change.”
Clinton made the comments before introducing Barbra Streisand at an LGBT fundraiser in downtown New York.
Shifting to the other half of Trump supporters, Clinton said many of those people feel like the government doesn’t care about them and who just want change in any form.
“That other basket of people are people who feel that 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. They are just desperate for change. Doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.”
She continued, “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 who we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
Clinton’s comments amount to startlingly blunt talk for a candidate that is usually measured in her assessment of the Republican nominee.
While Clinton has accused Trump of racism before, she has never explicitly called him a racist, despite being asked a number of times and saying last month he has “built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.”
“He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party,” Clinton said in Reno, Nevada. “His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.”
On Thursday, Clinton slammed Trump for kicking off his political career by questioning whether President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States.
“We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business, who traffics in toxic conspiracy theories like the lie that President Obama is not a true American,” Clinton said. “If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?”
Clinton also echoed her campaign on Friday when she urged her supporters — some of whom paid $50,000 to attend the fundraiser with Streisand — to not get complacent.
“We can’t take anyone or any place for granted and therefore I am asking you to volunteer for a phone bank or a canvass. At the very least, if you know anybody who’s even thinking of voting for Trump, stage an intervention,” Clinton said. “That may be one conversion therapy I endorse. Just remember: friends don’t let friends vote for Trump.”
By Dan Merica, CNN
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.