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ANALYSIS: Clinton’s “Deplorables” Comment Isn’t 47%, It’s “Cling To Guns Or Religion”

The politically calculating version of Hillary Clinton from 2008 would be decrying her own present-day comments as elitist, demeaning, and out of touch.

Clinton Deplorables Guns Religion

At a fundraiser Friday night, Hillary Clinton labeled “half” of Donald Trump supporters as “deplorables.”

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

The comment drew swift backlash and a rare apology from Clinton on Saturday.

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in Washington Saturday, “Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve your respect.”

For his part, Trump tweeted, “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the polls!”

“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea.” Clinton’s apology statement read. “I regret saying ‘half’ – that was wrong,”

But Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine (D-VA), said Clinton didn’t need to apologize for the broad generalization.

“She said, ‘Look, I’m generalizing here, but a lot of his support is coming from this odd place, that he’s given a platform to the alt-right and white nationalists,’” Kaine said. “But then she went on to say, ‘Look, there’s also a number of his supporters that have economic anxieties, and we’ve got to speak to those.’”

Echoes of 2008…

Clinton’s remark drew comparisons in three separate Washington Post stories (one, two, three) to Gov. Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark at a fundraiser in 2012, in which the former GOP presidential nominee said there were 47 percent of the voting population who “are dependent upon government” and will vote for President Obama.

But a more apt comparison might be to President Obama’s 2008 fundraiser gaffe, in which he described small town Pennsylvania voters as those who are “bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Like Clinton’s remark, Obama’s statement was made a fundraiser, his in San Francisco, hers in Manhattan with Barbara Streisand, and both comments were inartful descriptions of Americans who oppose their candidacies.

But in Obama’s case in 2008, Clinton blasted Obama’s remarks as “elitist,” “demeaning,” and “out of touch.”

“I also disagree with Sen. Obama’s assertion that people in this country ‘cling to guns’ and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration,” Clinton said in 2008 in the heat of the Democratic primary. “People of all walks of life hunt — and they enjoy doing so because it’s an important part of their life, not because they are bitter.”

Clinton’s apology for her remarks Friday night does the bare minimum to cover her bases, but a politically calculating version of herself from 2008 would be decrying present-day Clinton’s comments as elitist, demeaning, and out of touch.