NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)– Hillary Clinton says she regrets describing half of Donald Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.”
In a statement Saturday, Clinton said that, “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.”
She said she was “grossly generalistic” in her remarks at the LGBT fundraiser in New York Friday and, she added, “that’s never a good idea.”
She said she regrets only half of her statement, emphasizing that it is “really deplorable” that Trump is affiliated with people from the right-winged “alt-right movement,” and that “David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values.”
Trump quickly pounced following her initial remarks, saying Saturday she had smeared many Americans and would pay a heavy political price, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
“Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard-working people. I think it will cost her at the polls!” Trump said in a tweet.
Running mate Mike Pence drew loud applause when he told social conservatives: “Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve your respect.”
Pence, in remarks at the Values Voter conference in Washington, shot back: “The truth of the matter is that the men and women who support Donald Trump’s campaign are hard-working Americans, farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans, members of our law enforcement community, members of every class of this country who know that we can make America great again.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also weighed in, saying Saturday that “insulting everyday Americans to a group of wealthy donors shows whose priorities Clinton really has in mind.”
The rhetorical scuffle comes as the candidates head into the final two months of the campaign, with Trump trying to make up ground on Clinton before the Nov. 8 election.
While Clinton is taking heat for her comment, Trump’s brand is controversy. At a rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday, he said Clinton is “so protected” that “she could walk into this arena right now and shoot somebody with 20,000 people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart. And she wouldn’t be prosecuted.”
Trump has lamented the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute Clinton on criminal charges over her handling of classified emails while secretary of state.
The comment was reminiscent of Trump’s January description of the loyalty of his supporters. “They say I have the most loyal people … where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible,” he said.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)