Donald Trump confronted head-on allegations that he is racist on Thursday, defending his hard-line approach to immigration while trying to make the case to minority voters that Democrats have abandoned them.
His general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile hammered the point that Trump unleashed the “radical fringe” within the Republican Party, including anti-Semites and white supremacists, dubbing the billionaire businessman’s campaign as one that will “make America hate again.”
The ping-pong accusations come as the two candidates vie for minorities and any undecided voters with less than three months until Election Day. Weeks before the first early voting, Trump faces the urgent task of revamping his image to win over those skeptical of his candidacy.
In a tweet shortly after Clinton wrapped up her speech in the swing state of Nevada, Trump said she “is pandering to the worst instincts in our society. She should be ashamed of herself!”
Clinton is eager to capitalize on Trump’s slipping poll numbers, particularly among moderate Republican women turned off by his controversial campaign. “Don’t be fooled” by Trumps efforts to rebrand, she told voters at a speech in Reno, saying the country faced a “moment of reckoning.”
“He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties,” she said.
Trump tried to get ahead of the Democratic nominee, addressing a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire just minutes before Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton is going to try to accuse this campaign, and the millions of decent Americans who support this campaign, of being racists,” Trump predicted.
“To Hillary Clinton, and to her donors and advisers, pushing her to spread her smears and her lies about decent people, I have three words,” he said. “I want you to hear these words, and remember these words: Shame on you.”
Trump tried to turn the tables on Clinton, suggesting she was trying to distract from questions swirling around donations to The Clinton Foundation and her use of her private email servers.