Hillary Clinton, appearing at a gala campaign fundraiser on Friday featuring a performance by Barbra Streisand, told the crowd that half of rival Donald Trump’s supporters could be put “into what I call the basket of deplorables,” while the the rest are “desperate for change.”
“To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables,'” Clinton said, according to a recording of her remarks obtained by Variety. “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 have 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.”
Clinton urged the crowd to not ignore Trump’s other supporters, “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 are just desperate for change,” she said. “It doesn’t 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, that they won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they are in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
The event — held in the ballroom of Cipriano Wall Street, with tickets ranging from $1,200-per-person up to $250,000-per-person — was aimed at the LGBT community. The money raised went to the Hillary Victory Fund.
Streisand sang “Pure Imagination,” “People,” “Losing My Mind,” “Being at War with Each Other” and “Send in the Clowns,” among other songs. She reworked the words of “Send in the Clowns” to take aim at Trump: “Is he that rich? Maybe he’s poor. Until we see his taxes, we can’t be sure. Who is this clown?” She finished her set with “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Streisand has been outspoken about Donald Trump during her concert tour. Last month, she ripped the Republican presidential candidate at the opening of her tour “Barbra: The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic,” essentially calling him brainless.
Cynthia Nixon hosted, and Rufus Wainwright performed songs such as “Over the Rainbow” and “Zing! Went the Strings in My Heart.”
In her remarks, Clinton also noted that rival Donald Trump “has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn marriage equality.” Noting the list of people Trump has said he would like to see on the high court, she added, “He’s not kidding.”
She also pledged to see passage of the Equality Act, to expand access to mental health care and addiction treatment, and to address youth homelessness and end conversion therapy. She said that she would fight for passage of comprehensive gun laws, citing the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case, and don’t get complacent,” Clinton said. “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.”
Also appearing at the event were “Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, and DNC acting chair Donna Brazile. Proceeds go to the Hillary Victory Fund, which splits contributions between the campaign, the Democratic party, and state parties.
An organizer said that the event raised at least $3.1 million.
Update: Clinton’s campaign released a statement clarifying her remarks.
“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.’”