WASHINGTON — In her most blistering attack of Republican nominee Donald Trump yet, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton accused the real estate mogul of popularizing prejudice in a manner unprecedented in modern American history.
Specifically addressing his support from the “alt-right” movement, the Democratic nominee excoriated Trump’s unwillingness to reject that brand of hate-driven politics, and casted that as a dangerous omen of what could come if he were sent to the White House.
“When Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them,” she told a crowd in Reno, Nevada on Thursday.
“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties,” she added.
“Now, some people will say that his bluster and bigotry is just over-heated campaign rhetoric – an outrageous person saying outrageous things for attention. But look at the policies Trump has proposed. They would put prejudice into practice.”
Clinton’s scathing criticism of Trump — who she called “a man with a long history of racial discrimination” — is seen as a response to her opponent calling her a “bigot” Wednesday night at a rally in Mississippi, where he also described her as someone “who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.”
Throughout her address Thursday, the presidential hopeful mentioned numerous controversial episodes from Trump’s campaign that have caused consternation over their anti-Semitic overtones, including his tweeting an image of Clinton with a six-pointed star superimposed with money and a caption that read “Most corrupt candidate ever!”
“His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist website,” she said. “The Trump campaign also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California. They only dropped him under pressure.”
Clinton’s speech comes one week after Trump undertook a so-called pivot by shaking up his campaign staff. He brought in veteran GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager and Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon to be his campaign’s chief executive.
Breitbart News, a freewheeling far-right populist news site, has served as a platform for Trump supporters since he announced his presidential bid last June. It is known for publishing conspiracy theories and being a home to white nationalist news consumers.
“The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for the alt-right,” Clinton told her supporters. “A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party.”
The former secretary of state ticked off a list of headlines from the website to illuminate the nature of the organization, including titles like “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.”
Mocking her billionaire challenger, Clinton said, “Trump likes to say he only hires the ‘best people,’ but he’s had to fire so many campaign managers it’s like an episode of The Apprentice. The latest shake-up was designed to – quote – ‘Let Trump be Trump.’ To do that, he hired Stephen Bannon.”
Furthermore, Clinton used the Bannon hire to resuscitate criticisms over Trump’s refusal to immediately disavow the backing of former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
“When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke … Trump wouldn’t do it,” she said to her supporters.
Clinton went on to cite a discussion about Trump’s candidacy on the self-declared white nationalist’s radio program. “On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant,” she said, before quoting a guest — whom she called a white supremacist — celebrating Trump’s improbable ascent.
“Duke laughed,” she added. “‘There’s still more work to do,’ he said.”
The nominee stated that the racist tinge of the right has always existed, but until this election has been marginalized to the periphery of American politics. She said former Republican nominees, such as Bob Dole, John McCain and former president George W. Bush, rejected their support and worldview.
“We need leadership like that again,” she said.
Clinton has been under fire lately for a new batch of emails that raise questions about the ties between the State Department during her tenure and her family’s Clinton Foundation.
After an Associated Press report that claimed she took meetings with a number of foundation donors in her Foggy Bottom office, Trump called for a special prosecutor to investigate those relationships.
A federal judge also ordered that roughly 15,000 more of her emails from that time be released before the election.