A defiant Hillary Clinton is standing by her infamous campaign trail comment that a significant portion of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”
In an interview with CBS’ Jane Pauley, her first on a tour for her new book, “What Happened,” Clinton dismissed the idea that her comment, made at a Sept. 9, 2016, campaign event, had an impact on the outcome of the election.
“You can put half of Trump’s supporters in what I call a basket of deplorables,” Clinton said during that campaign event.
Trump supporters and other conservatives jumped on the comment and used it to paint Clinton as an out-of-touch elitist.
“Why do you think that word ‘deplorable’ was circulating in your mind?” Pauley asked Clinton.
“I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner. I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable. I thought his behavior, as we saw on the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape was deplorable. And there were a large number of people who didn’t care. It did not matter to them,” Clinton said.
“You fed into that though, when you said ‘basket of deplorables,’ you energized…,” Pauley began to respond.
A defiant Clinton cut in: “No, but they were already energized.”
“But you offended some people who didn’t personally feel deplorable at all,” Pauley continued.
“I don’t buy that, I don’t buy that. I’m sorry I gave them a political gift of any kind, but I don’t think it was determinative,” said Clinton.
“It was a gift,” Pauley said, nodding her head and smiling.
Despite Clinton’s denials about the impact of her comment, an internal study conducted on behalf of her campaign suggested that voters were turned off by the quip.
Diane Hessen, the author of the internal study, found that after Clinton’s remark, “all hell broke loose” among the group of voters she was tracking at the time.
One participant in the study, a Pennsylvania man named George, told Hessen that he was “outraged” by Clinton’s comment.
“George told me that his neighborhood was outraged, that many of his hard-working, church-going, family-loving friends resented being called that name,” Hessan wrote an op-ed reviewing her findings.
“You know, he said, Clinton ended up being the biggest bully of them all.”
In December, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook also acknowledged that Clinton’s statement “definitely could have alienated some voters.”