BALTIMORE — Donald Trump on Monday said Hillary Clinton's suggestion that half his supporters belong in a basket of deplorables was the "most explicit attack on the American voter" by any major-party presidential nominee.
Trump spent more than half of his 21-minute speech responding to the comments Clinton made at a fundraiser Friday night, saying his supporters were "viciously demonized," "smeared," and "demeaned" by the Democratic nominee.
"She divides people into baskets as though they were objects, not human beings," he said.
Clinton has expressed regret for saying "you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."
"I regret saying 'half' -- that was wrong," she said in a statement on Saturday, adding that she "won't stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric."
But Trump on Monday accused her of doubling down on the sentiment.
"She spoke with hatred and derision for the people who make this country run," Trump said while addressing members of the National Guard Association here. His lengthy comments sought to paint Clinton as out of touch, elitist, and someone who looks down on average Americans -- all of which, in Trump's mind, disqualifies her from office.
"The disdain that Hillary Clinton expressed towards millions of decent Americans disqualifies her from public service. You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter and she does. You can't lead this nation if you have such a low opinion for its citizens," Trump said. "If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, then I don't see how she can credibly campaign."
The Republican nominee's attack on Clinton doubled as a defense of his own supporters as well, saying there are "patriotic Americans of all backgrounds" who support his candidacy.
"She used these vile words in order to bully and intimidate honest citizens out of seeking government reform," Trump said.
Trump has not been without his own controversial comments about the American electorate. He offended Gold Star families after a prolonged feud with the Khan family, whose son died in Iraq, when he compared their sacrifice to his own sacrifice to succeed in business. He has consistently conjured an image of black life in America as filled with poverty and violence and alleged that a Mexican judge couldn't rule fairly on a Trump University case because of his Hispanic heritage and Trump's own stance on immigration.
And he memorably kicked off his candidacy with blanket comments about Mexicans, calling them "rapists," while also allowing that "some...are good people."
Trump did not mention Clinton's health and recently revealed bout with pneumonia in his speech. Earlier in the day he told Fox News, "I hope she gets well soon. I don't know what's going on."