President Donald Trump took aim Wednesday at the Democratic debates, saying his potential opponents in the 2020 election would lead the country "into an economic sinkhole" and that CNN host Don Lemon was "the dumbest man on television."
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that if he had not won the 2016 election, the United States would be in a “Great Recession/Depression.”
The president added that the Democratic contenders on the debate stage in Detroit on Tuesday night, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris and others, would “lead us into an economic sinkhole the likes of which we have never seen before.”
“With me, only up!” he said.
The U.S. has experienced a decade of economic growth, following the end of the recession, much of that growth under the tenure of President Barack Obama.
Trump followed up with another tweet, quoting Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana as saying, “The lesser of two Socialists is still a Socialist!”
Later Wednesday, Trump insulted Lemon over a debate question.
"CNN’s Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television, insinuated last night while asking a debate 'question' that I was a racist, when in fact I am 'the least racist person in the world,'" he said. "Perhaps someone should explain to Don that he is supposed to be neutral, unbiased & fair, or is he too dumb (stupid) to understand that."
During the debate, Lemon said Trump was pursuing an election strategy, "based in part, on racial division." He then went on to ask former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, "How do you convince primary voters that you'd be the best nominee to take on President Trump and heal the racial divide in America?"
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's remarks.
Lemon's question followed a series of attacks by the president on Democratic members of Congress who are people of color, most recently House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
Earlier this month, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Trump for racist comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color.
Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts took center stage Tuesday night during the second Democratic debate along with eight other candidates. The two progressives defended their "Medicare for All" plan and other “bold progressive” policy changes against more centrist candidates.
The more centrist Democrats, including former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, argued such sweeping policies could turn off independent voters and lead to Trump’s re-election.
Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the leading Democrats on stage Tuesday "advocated a government takeover of health care, open borders, free health care to illegal immigrants, and raising taxes on the middle class to pay for it."
"And before the night was over, all of the leading Democrats argued for decriminalizing illegal immigration, the Green New Deal, gun control, and abortion," he said at a conservative student conference in Washington, D.C. "But today, the headlines across the country say that the story last night was that moderates in the Democratic Party were pushing back in the debate. You know, it’s pretty amazing what the media calls 'moderates' these days."
Sanders has described himself as a Democratic socialist, while Warren has said she is a “capitalist to my bones” but supports a progressive policy agenda.
On Wednesday, Biden, the front-runner in the polls, and Harris will face off against eight other candidates.