Democratic vice presidential nominee tells UM students that Americans are 'stronger together." Daniel Mears, The Detroit News


Ann Arbor — Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said Tuesday that Republican Donald Trump’s rhetoric disparaging immigrants and Muslims justifies Hillary Clinton’s description of half his supporters as being “deplorable.”

Kaine made the comment after Clinton this weekend expressed “regret” for suggesting at a Friday evening fundraiser that half of Trump’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables,” including racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic people. She hasn’t backed down from the description.

Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has attacked Clinton as being unfit to be president for having “slandered” millions of voters, while the Clinton campaign shifted Monday and began defending the former secretary of state’s description of some supporters of the New York businessman.

“She advanced the notion that if you’re chumming around with the head of Ku Klux Klan or people like that, that’s deplorable. You gotta call that out,” Kaine said in a speech at the University of Michigan’s Diag. “If you’re attacking immigrants, that’s deplorable. If you’re attacking LGBT Americans, that’s deplorable. If you’re attacking people because they’re Muslims, that’s deplorable.”

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Kaine also went after Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, for declining to call former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke “deplorable” in an interview Monday on CNN.

Trump has renounced Duke’s support, but was criticized early in the campaign for being slow to do so.

Pence has called Duke a “bad man,” but said Tuesday he’s “not in the name-calling business” in continuing to decline to call the former KKK leader “deplorable.”

“If you cannot call out bigotry, if you cannot call out racism, xenophobia ... if you can’t call it out and you stand back and you’re silent around it, you’re enabling it to grow, you’re enabling it to become more powerful,” said Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia.

Trump and Republicans have been decrying Clinton’s “deplorables” description of half of Trump’s supporters during a speech Friday night at a fundraiser with lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual supporters in New York City.

“To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it,” Clinton said.

Kaine suggested Clinton’s description of Trump’s campaign was justified, noting that Trump “trashed” the federal judge handling a lawsuit alleging fraud at his Trump University because the judge’s parents were immigrants from Mexico.

“I’m happy to be on a ticket with somebody who’s not afraid to call out bad behavior,” he said. “We don’t need to appease intolerable behavior. We’ve got to call it out when we see and that’s how we defeat it.”

Kaine spoke at an outdoor rally in UM’s Diag, using the crowd of mostly college students to tout Clinton’s plan to eventually offer free in-state college tuition to students whose families annually earn less than $125,000.

Clare Higgins, a UM senior studying film and creative writing, said she agreed with Kaine’s description of Trump’s disparaging remarks about Muslims and other minorities.

“I think deplorable is a pretty good word,” said Higgins of Ann Arbor. “I think (Kaine) did a good job of showing restraint.”

Bobluke Wejinya, an information technology manager from Ypsilanti, said Trump shouldn’t be insulted by Clinton’s remarks.

“It’s the truth,” Wejinya said. “He’s lying to everybody and people are believing it.”

Kaine is the first major party nominee to visit the University of Michigan this general election cycle. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont drew a large crowd to a campus rally the night before his narrow win over Clinton in the March 8 Democratic primary.

The Clinton campaign estimates 151,000 Michigan families have a child who could qualify for tuition-free attendance at a public college or university by 2021 under the former secretary of state’s plan.

Clinton has proposed paying for the program by “limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers,” and students would be required to work 10 hours a week to defray costs.

Republicans have criticized Clinton’s higher education plan and questioned how Clinton would pay for a such an entitlement program estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years.

“They continue to push unsustainable spending with no details on how to pay for it, sticking our children with the bill for years to come,” said Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, in a statement. “While ‘free’ tuition sounds great, someone has to pay for it. ‘Free’ college tuition is nothing more than a transfer of the cost of education from students to taxpayers.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood

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