Hillary Clinton said Friday that while prejudice was at the heart of some of Donald Trump’s appeal, Americans should not lose sight of the economic strife that has earned him a following in parts of the country.
Speaking in Washington, D.C., at a conference of black and Hispanic journalists, the Democratic presidential candidate said she been trying to understand what has “driven” people to support her Republican rival, despite his controversial statements about various minority groups.
“Of course some of the appeal is xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic. But let’s not lose sight of some of the pain Americans are feeling,” Clinton said, noting the loss of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt and coal mining jobs in Appalachia. “Let’s not forget the real economic challenges.”
Half of voters (51 percent) told Morning Consult in June that the word “racist” described Trump well, while about one-third (31 percent) said it did not. That sentiment was strongest among African-American voters, 74 percent of whom said they thought Trump was a racist.
Trump leads Clinton among white voters, 46 percent to 44 percent in a head-to-head matchup. But among black voters, she has a 77 percent to 9 percent advantage. Trump pulls support from 27 percent of Hispanic voters, while 58 percent support Clinton.
Trump is under water in favorability among all three races, with unfavorable views from more than 70 percent of Hispanic voters and African Americans. Clinton, meanwhile, leads both groups, with a favorable view by 55 percent of Hispanics and 75 percent of African Americans.
The remarks about Trump’s supporters came during a question-and-answer part of the program that was led by journalists involved in this weekend’s conference. Though it was more of a panel discussion, Clinton’s campaign billed it as a press conference. She has not given a formal press conference in nearly a year.
During her remarks, Clinton praised President Obama’s economic efforts during the Great Recession, but she said there was still work to do.
Clinton specifically spoke to the issues facing black and Latino communities, offering her support to efforts to “ban the box” on employment applications and “expand economic opportunity” with programs like Rep. Jim Clyburn’s “10-20-30” proposal for impoverished communities. She also and promised to tackle comprehensive immigration reform during her first 100 days in office.
“This will be fast tracked. We already know what will happen because it’s already passed,” she told a questioner.
Efforts to overhaul immigration have hit roadblocks in the past. But Clinton said that if she is elected, Democrats will take back the Senate and improve their numbers in the House, a sign she hopes Republicans will see as one to work with her on her proposals.
“There’s nothing like winning to change minds,” she said.