WASHINGTON ― Hillary Clinton on Sunday acknowledged that referring to then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables” may have further galvanized them against her and gave Trump “a political gift.”
“I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner. I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said, when asked about the infamous remark, in her first major TV interview since the election, which aired on “CBS Sunday Morning.”
“I thought his behavior as we saw on the Access Hollywood tape was deplorable,” she continued, referring to the 2005 recording of Trump bragging about sexual assault, which surfaced in October of 2016. “And there were a large number of people who didn’t care. It did not matter to them. And he turned out to be a very effective reality TV star.”
The interview comes ahead of the Tuesday release of What Happened, her book reflecting on her election defeat.
Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment at a New York City fundraiser almost exactly a year ago ― on Sept. 9. On Sunday, she said that while the remark aided Trump, she didn’t think it was a big factor in her defeat because his supporters “were already energized.”
“I’m sorry I gave him a political gift of any kind, but I don’t think that was determinative,” she said.
Clinton on Sunday acknowledged that Trump successfully tapped into voters’ race- and class-based “anger,” “nostalgia” and “resentment,” and regrets that during her campaign, she did not effectively show that she understood those sentiments.
“I understood that there were many Americans who, because of the financial crash, there was anger. And there was resentment. I knew that,” she told host Jane Pauley. “But I believed that it was my responsibility to try to offer answers to it, not to fan it. I think, Jane, that it was a mistake because a lot of people didn’t want to hear my plans. They wanted me to share their anger. And I should’ve done a better job of demonstrating, ‘I get it.’”
In the interview, Clinton also criticized Trump’s highly caustic and divisive inauguration address, in which he decried “this American carnage” and painted the country as dark and apocalyptic.
“What an opportunity to say, ‘OK, I’m proud of my supporters, but I’m the president of all Americans,’” Clinton said. “That’s not what we heard at all.”
She also assailed Trump for treating the presidency like a reality show, given his lack of experience in politics and his rise to fame as host of “The Apprentice.”
“We have a reality show that leads to the election of a president. He ends up in the Oval Office. He says, ‘Boy, it’s so much harder than I thought it would be. This is really tough. I had no idea,’” Clinton said of Trump. “Well, yeah, because it’s not a show. It’s real. It’s reality for sure.”