Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — It was arguably Hillary Clinton’s stickiest gaffe.
She was speaking at an LGBT gala in New York City. Barbra Streisand performed earlier.
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables.’ Right?” the Democratic presidential nominee told donors at the event in September.
“Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, 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.”
The reaction was swift, and condemnation was widespread, but nowhere did her comments reverberate more powerfully than at rallies for the main target of her criticism, Donald Trump.
Scattered throughout his subsequent rallies were signs declaring “Deplorable lives matter.” Shirts emblazoned with a Minion, characters in the animated movie “Despicable Me,” bore the tag “Deplorable me.”
— Candace Smith (@CandaceSmith_) September 13, 2016
Amid the scrutiny, Clinton stood, at least partially, behind her comments. She said she regretted using the word “half,” while condemning Trump for being a “champion” of white supremacists.
Meanwhile, some have applauded Clinton’s attack, saying many Trump supporters are indeed xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic.
Clinton has also criticized Trump for perpetuating birtherism, the “racist lie” she said some of his supporters buy into. So, in interviews with over a dozen Trump supporters across the country in the past month, ABC News has sought to divine the values of these Americans on the topics of Islam, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and the birther controversy.
Here’s what some of them said they believe.
Margie Burr, a retired bookkeeper with a wide smile who lives on Merritt Island, Florida, proudly showed off her Trump-Pence sign at his rally in Melbourne, Florida. Asked whether she agreed with Trump’s talk of barring foreign Muslims from entering the U.S., she said, “Well, you know, I think we should try it. If it happens, I’m behind it.”
She didn’t think it was an infringement of anyone’s religious liberties.
“I don’t want to take away anyone else’s religion, but we have the freedom of religion, and I want to keep that freedom and worship the way I worship, and you know, we’re good people with Christian values,” she said. “They can be what they want, but leave us alone.”
Ethyn Rad, an 18-year-old Nebraskan who is training to be a barber, went to see Trump across the border in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He said his father is Muslim and is also voting for Trump, but Rad said he thinks a ban on Muslims plays into stereotypes.
“I think it’s false, think it’s more of an American stereotype about other people,” he said. “Because if you go to other countries, they’re pretty nice. I’ve been to Iran. I’ve been there. It’s not too bad. I think it’s just an American stereotype that all Islams [sic] are out to blow up America.”
But he believes in mosque surveillance and said that America shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees.
“By having so much Islams come into America that are kind of like, I don’t know, refugees, it’s going to make America not as good. We’d be better off if we didn’t accept them.”
Jason Wallace, 34, served in the Army for 12 years, spending four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He thinks the problem with Islam is the religion itself. “They’re just filled with hate,” said Wallace, who saw Trump in Prescott Valley, Arizona. “They hate everything about Western civilization. They hate the way we do things. They majorly hate us.”
He added, “I don’t think by saying there’s a problem with Islam, it’s infringing on their religion. I think this is us voicing our rights and our concerns with them. Some of my best friends are from the Middle East.”
He went on to say that not all Muslims are bad. “The radicalists? Yes. Definitely issues there,” he added.
Cindy and John Stout are self-employed and own a sales company. At Trump’s rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they were jovial, outfitted in their “Deplorables” gear. They noted that Colorado legalized the use of marijuana. “We’re kind of lenient here,” Cindy Stout joked.
“What happens in folks’ bedrooms, that’s their own business. We got lots of friends that are gay and lesbian. That’s wonderful,” she said.
“Having been in the military, you grow up with that, and you don’t have a prejudiced bone in your body. You have friends that you serve with.”
Her husband, who also served in the Army, interjected, “In the Army, there’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ People don’t care about that. I don’t think people care about that, and the older generation that are opposed to it, looking from a biblical standpoint, I think they’re starting to say, ‘OK, we can have different religions and things like that, and it’s OK.'”
But Burr wasn’t quite as open. “They got freedom of choice, and that’s their prerogative,” she said. “More power to them if that’s the way they want to live. As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.”
Jeff Ratkosky and his wife (who declined to give her name) live in Cleveland and traveled to Canton, Ohio, to see Trump. When informed that Trump said he would be a friend to the gay community, she turned up her nose. “I don’t want to comment on that,” she said.
Frank Meeker, a 54-year-old fire technician, traveled from Chino Valley, Arizona, to Prescott Valley to see Trump. Meeker said he doesn’t support same-sex marriage but thinks people should be allowed to do what they want in the bedroom. His only qualm was that he feels same-sex marriage and the gay community are being pushed on him and the younger generation.
“They’re trying to say if you don’t agree with it, you’re intolerant or you’re a bigot, racist, which I’m not. Like I said … this whole political correct thing has gotten way out of hand,” he said.
Meeker, who said his maternal grandparents are of Spanish descent, declared emphatically that he can’t be racist because he is a product of immigrants. But undocumented immigrants pose a threat to this country, he said, when asked about illegal immigration from Mexico.
“We don’t know who they are. They’ve not been vetted, they could be ISIS,” he said.
He continued, “Yeah, they could come up through Mexico, Canada and anything else. Since 9/11, they’ve been coming through here. It’s a known fact that they’ve been coming through the airport. I’m not saying ISIS itself but questionable people.”
William Benner, a self-described “laborer” from Manheim, Pennsylvania, similarly is worried about ISIS infiltrating and the flow of undocumented immigrants he said are coming into this country.
“I think having an open border and just letting anybody come in is an issue,” he said. “It’s not necessarily just Mexicans. My wife is Spanish. I have no problem with Spanish people at all.”
He added, “The terrorists have said that they’re going to infiltrate, fit in with them. They’re going to come in.”
Rad said he mostly agrees with Trump’s infamous characterization of some undocumented immigrants as rapists and criminals.
“I would say the majority of them are, but I wouldn’t say all of them are,” he said. “It’s unnecessary for them to be here.”
The Stouts were playfully fighting. John Stout believed that Trump ended the birther controversy — the false claim that Barack Obama was born abroad — and said it shouldn’t be an issue.
But Cindy Stout countered, “I think that should’ve been proven years ago, which I’m still not convinced it was.”
Asked whether she believes Obama was born in this country, she responded, “No, I do not. Flat out … There’s a lot of things that are amiss in that history there. His college records. People that don’t know him. We can’t find anybody.”
“She’s a wacko,” her husband joked. “Don’t listen to her.”
As they continue to argue, he concluded, with a smile, “You’re walking home tonight.”
In Ohio, Ratkosky and his wife also have their doubts about Obama’s birth. “Sure is kind of suspicious. There’s a lot of suspicion following that,” his wife said.
He said, “There’s still a lot of unanswered stuff with that too, but he’ll be out soon, so we won’t have to worry about that.”
When asked about the president’s long-form birth certificate, which was released publicly, his wife said, “Like I said, we don’t work for the government, and neither do you. Like we said, you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes, so just because they tell you something or produce a birth certificate doesn’t make it’s factual. I mean, they have to have some secrecy. I don’t know.”
In Florida, Burr would say only, “Well, I think it’s a little late to discuss that. He’s at the end of his term, so really at this point it really doesn’t matter, and that’s all I can say about that.”
Meeker in Arizona, clad in his “Hillary for prison” shirt, similarly had questions. When asked whether he believes the president was born in the U.S., he said, “That’s really in question. I don’t know. I kind of doubt it, but I don’t know for sure. Like I said, it’s not been put to rest, and nobody’s really even said something.
“Why is the media trying to cover it up? They keep trying to throw it in Trump’s face. It’s like, what do you call it? Smoke and mirrors.”
After the interview was over, he gamely posed for a picture and unfurled a large flag he had under his seat.
It was a variation of the Gadsden flag, the yellow banner depicting a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t tread on me,” the emblem of states’ rights advocacy. But instead of the traditional yellow background or U.S. flag, the images on Meeker’s version are emblazoned over the Confederate flag. The camera snapped, and Meeker flashed a toothy grin.
— Candace Smith (@CandaceSmith_) October 4, 2016
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