‘Steady stream of bigotry’: Clinton rips Trump in speech linking him to ‘alt-right’

·Senior National Affairs Reporter

Hillary Clinton on Thursday laid out a comprehensive critique of Donald Trump’s worldview as full of “racially tinged” conspiracy theories outside of mainstream Republicanism. The speech is part of a sustained effort by the Clinton campaign to delegitimize Trump as unfit for the presidency in the eyes of mainstream voters.

Clinton’s speech in Reno, Nev., came about a week after Trump shook up his campaign team and started making direct pitches to black and Latino voters.

The Democratic nominee told her supporters that Trump has peddled “a constant stream of bigotry” during his campaign. She said Trump is not a mainstream conservative, but rather part of a “fringe element” called the “alt-right.”

“He has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones,” Clinton said, mentioning Trump’s innuendos about her health, his insistence that President Obama was not born in the United States, and his association with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Among other things, Jones has said the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.

Clinton warned voters not to give Trump “the benefit of the doubt,” detailing, one by one, the provocative comments he has made since he began running for president — from questioning the fitness of a federal judge due to his Mexican ancestry to retweeting the views of a white supremacist.

“Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to 11 million people,” she said.

Trump began directly appealing to African-American voters last week, and recently said he is open to shifting his stance on deporting all undocumented immigrants in the country. Trump has asked minority voters what they have to lose in voting for him, arguing that Democrats have not improved their economic standing or crime in their neighborhoods. (Clinton called Trump’s outreach comments “insulting and ignorant.”) The real estate tycoon, who is trailing Clinton in most polls of battleground states, brought on Breitbart News chair Stephen Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway to run his ailing campaign two weeks ago.

Clinton warned voters not to be fooled by the change in personnel. “He may have some new people putting new words in his mouth, but we know where he stands,” Clinton said.

She also directly attacked Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chair, by reading headlines out loud from Breitbart. Clinton’s quotes created a fairly surreal moment in this unusual campaign.

“To give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they’ve published,” Clinton said, adding she wasn’t making them up. “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy. Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer? Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield. Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage.”

Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign stop in Reno, Nev.. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign stop in Reno, Nev.. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Clinton contrasted Trump’s rhetoric with that of Republicans in the past, saying that Trump’s brand of conservatism is part of a “rising tide of hardline, right-wing nationalism” that does not represent the mainstream GOP.

“Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the party to get out,” she said, also mentioning George W. Bush’s embrace of Muslim Americans and Sen. John McCain’s defense of Obama from birther conspiracy theories.

She then made an appeal to Republicans who are alienated by Trump to back her instead.

“Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying ‘Enough is enough,’ including a lot of Republicans,” Clinton said. “I’m honored to have their support.”

Before Clinton began speaking, Trump told a crowd in Manchester, N.H., that her attempt to tie him to extreme elements in the party is “one of the most brazen attempts at distraction in the history of politics.”

Repeatedly accusing Clinton of desperation, the celebrity businessman strongly denied he was a racist, casting it not just a smear against his campaign but the “decent Americans” supporting his unlikely bid for the presidency. He called it the “oldest play in the Democratic playbook.”

“You’re racist! You’re racist! You’re racist!” Trump said of Clinton’s expected attacks, breaking from his prepared remarks.

After Clinton’s speech, Trump panned it on Twitter as “short” and inaccurate.

Holly Bailey contributed to this report.