Washington: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that the disdain his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, showed for voters by calling his supporters "deplorables" made her unfit to occupy the White House.
"You cannot run for President if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter. You can't lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens," Trump said on Monday in a speech to the National Guard Association conference in Baltimore.
Trump once again attacked Clinton for having remarked on Friday that "half" of his supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables", given that - she said - they harbour racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic and/or Islamophobic sentiments.
Clinton said she was being "grossly generalistic", adding that the other half of Trump's supporters are frustrated and need sympathy.
Trump focused his Baltimore speech on attacking those comments, but he did not delve into the circumstances that led the former secretary of state to fall ill on Sunday and leave a ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City to honour the victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Clinton's campaign and her doctor issued statements saying that the candidate had become dehydrated and overheated at the ceremony because she was suffering from pneumonia, as had been diagnosed on Friday.
On the contrary, Trump elected to attack his opponent on her "deplorables" comment, saying that Clinton's remarks were targeted at law enforcement personnel and the military, adding that "These were the people Hillary Clinton so viciously demonised" and demanding that she issue a full apology.
"She divides people into baskets as though they were objects not human beings," he declared.
Trump, who is behind Clinton in the voter surveys but has narrowed her lead, wants to win the votes of the rural middle class who have lost ground economically due to globalisation and industrial reconversion.
Nevertheless, Trump will have great difficulty winning the presidency with just that voter segment, and desperately needs the support - only marginal to date - of Hispanics and African Americans.