Hillary Clinton warned Thursday that Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the Republican presidential nomination represents the victory of a “
fringe element” of dangerous nationalists over mainstream Republican leaders.
In a speech from Nevada that her campaign touted heavily throughout the week, the Democratic presidential nominee singled out the “alt right,” a faction of conservative voters vocally in favour of racially tinged nationalist policies.
“Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous,” Clinton said in the speech.
She continued: “A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.”
The former secretary of state laid into Trump’s recent appointment of the former head of the website Breitbart, Steve Bannon, as his campaign CEO. And while Trump has denounced some white supremacists’ support for his candidacy, Clinton argued that former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s vocal support for Trump should be a warning sign about the Republican presidential nominee’s nationalist rhetoric.
“There’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now,” Clinton said.
She added: “On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant. ‘We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,'” one white supremacist said. Duke laughed. ‘There’s still more work to do,’ he said.”
For his part, Trump has brushed off Clinton’s comments, attempting to counter by aggressively pitching his candidacy to minority voters by emphasising his strong support for law enforcement.
In a speech in New Hampshire on Thursday, the Republican presidential nominee defended his harsh immigration rhetoric and his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US, asserting that Clinton “bullies voters” by painting “decent Americans as racists.”
“People who want their laws enforced and respected, and who want their border secured, are not racists. They are patriotic Americans of all backgrounds who want their jobs protected and their country kept safe,” Trump said.
He added: “People who speak out against Radical Islam, and who warn about refugees, are not Islamophobes. They are decent American citizens who want to uphold our values as a tolerant society, and who want to keep the terrorists out of our country.”
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