WASHINGTON: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables," comments that sparked anger from her Republican rival for the White House and quickly went viral.
The Democratic nominee for president was speaking at a fundraiser in New York on Friday night when she said, "to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."
"The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up."
Speaking to the gay rights supporters, she added that those people are "irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
Trump, 70, struck back on Saturday, posting on Twitter: "Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!"
"Basket of Deplorables" quickly became a trending hashtag on Twitter. There was even a mock account @TheDeplorables.
Clinton, 68, also told the crowd at the "LGBT for Hillary" gala that other Trump supporters are people who feel let down by the government and the economy, and are "desperate for change."
"Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well," she said, shortly before introducing singer Barbra Streisand.
The entertainment icon performed a collection of her songs, including a parody of "Send in the Clowns" skewering Trump as a "sad vulgar clown."
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill sought to clarify the former secretary of state's remarks. He said members of the extreme right, known as the "alt right," were using Trump to advance a hate agenda.
"Obviously not everyone supporting Trump is part of the alt right, but alt right leaders are with Trump," he said on Twitter.
"And their supporters appear to make up half his crowd when you observe the tone of his events."
- 'True contempt' -
Meanwhile, Trump's camp lost no time in making the most of the attention on Clinton's comments.
"Just when Hillary Clinton said she was going to start running a positive campaign, she ripped off her mask and revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans," said Jason Miller, Trump's senior communications adviser, in a statement Friday night.
"Tonight's comments were more than another example of Clinton lying to the country about her emails, jeopardizing our national security, or even calling citizens 'super-predators' -- this was Clinton, as a defender of Washington's rigged system, telling the American public that she could care less about them," he said.
Trump's son Eric piled on, posting a photo of a packed sports arena.
"Look at the #BasketOfDeplorables in Pensacola Florida last night! What a horrible statement. #CrookedHillary," he tweeted, using one of his father's favorite insults for describing the Democrat.
During his speech Friday night in Pensacola, Trump strayed from prepared remarks to suggest that Clinton is so immune from prosecution she could get away with murder.
"She could walk into this arena right now and shoot somebody with 20,000 people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart and she wouldn't be prosecuted," he declared.
Clinton has been under continued scrutiny over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
An FBI investigation found that she sent unsecured emails with classified material through the server, but ultimately recommended that she not be prosecuted.
Trump's remark was reminiscent of a comment he made in January, when he said he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" but still not lose any support.