NEW YORK, April 14 (UPI) — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, speaking to the Al Sharpton-founded group National Action Network, assailed the Republican front-runner Donald Trump as a bigot and said America’s struggle to confront racism is not over.
Clinton, who has relied heavily on black voters as she marches closer to the Democratic nomination, told the group Trump is playing on the ugly side of American presidential politics and implored her supporters to “repudiate it.”
“Ugly currents that lurked just the below the surface of our politics have burst into the open. And everyone sees this bigotry for what it is, therefore it is up to all of us to repudiate it,” Clinton said during her speech.
She took aim at Trump’s initial failure to distance himself from the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, along with his calls to ban Muslims from entering the country.
“America’s long struggle with racism is far finished,” Clinton said. “And we are seeing that in this election. When the front-runner for the Republican nomination was asked in a national television interview to disavow David Duke and other white supremacists supporting his campaign, he played coy.”
Clinton also called out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another GOP presidential candidate, for his remarks about Muslims in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks. Cruz said police in U.S. cities should “secure” primarily Muslim neighborhoods and seek to gather intelligence at mosques and other communal places.
Clinton said Cruz’s policies would “treat Muslim Americans like criminals and religiously profile their neighborhoods.”
The speech comes at a politically sensitive time for Clinton, days after her husband, the former president, got into a heated exchange with a Black Lives Matter protester who pointed out the former president’s 1994 crime bill was largely responsible for what his wife now calls “the era of mass incarceration.”
Hillary Clinton has since disavowed portions of her husband’s legislation and the former president has admitted portions of it were a mistake. Clinton later walked back his full-throated defense of his record, admitting he could have handled the encounter better.