WASHINGTON: US Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton slammed Republicans for not responding “immediately” to halt Donald Trump’s divisive comments on Mexican immigrants, but stopped short of a full-out rebuke of the bombastic candidate.
“I’m very disappointed in those comments,” Clinton said during an interview aired on CNN on Sunday.
“I feel very bad, and very disappointed with him, and with the Republican party for not responding immediately and saying ‘Enough, stop it,'” Clinton said.
Trump, who donated to Clinton’s Senate campaign as well as the Clinton Foundation, has been defending his recent statements on Mexican immigrants across several rallies, including one in Phoenix on Saturday evening that drew thousands.
At a gathering Friday he doubled down on his controversial claim that Mexico is sending criminals to the United States, which he first uttered when he launched his White House campaign in mid-June.
But he also insisted he was misrepresented, and really likes Mexico and Mexicans.
Clinton said Republicans were all in the same “general area” on immigration.
“They don’t want to provide a path to citizenship, they range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants,” she said.
The billionaire tycoon’s caustic comments have sparked immigration debates and triggered questions about the braggadocio of a candidate unafraid to disparage fellow Republicans, and whether it hurts the party’s chances in 2016.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, himself a 2016 presidential contender, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday about a private phone call by Republican party chairman Reince Priebus, in which he asked Trump to tone down his rhetoric, was not enough.
A public statement is “not only incumbent upon the chairman, but anyone in a responsible position with the Republican party,” Graham said.
“To say that all the 11 million illegal immigrants for the most part are rapists, and drug dealers, is not only offensive at every level, you’re telling the Hispanic community, who are friends, neighbors, and relatives of illegal immigrant population exactly what we think of you,” Graham said.
“For us to win a national election, we have to do better with Hispanics and for us to have the moral authority as a party to govern a great nation, we have to reject this demagoguery,” he added.
Meanwhile, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina waded into the debate on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Donald Trump taps into an anger that I hear every day. People are angry that a commonsense thing like securing the border or ending sanctuary cities is somehow considered extreme. It’s not extreme, it’s commonsense,” she said.