After a morning of the Donald Trump campaign attempting to capitalize on the remark, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she regrets the "basket of deplorables" line she used to characterize half of the GOP nominee's supporters. But she only regretted it to a certain extent ― in a statement released by the campaign, Clinton admitted that she shouldn't have been so "grossly generalistic." She clarified, "Last night I was 'grossly generalistic,' and that's never a good idea. I regret saying 'half' -- that was wrong."
While Clinton backed off from her initial estimate of how many Trump supporters should be counted among the "basket of deplorables," the remainder of her statement was devoted to swiveling the spotlight back around on the xenophobia, racism, and conspiracy theories of the so-called "alt-right," a part of the grassroots engine of Trump's candidacy that she's increasingly taken on in recent weeks.
Specifically, Clinton's statement went on to condemn the Trump campaign for "[building] his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia," for his past widely-criticized attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel and the Khan family, and for his spearheading of the birther movement back in 2011, theorizing that President Obama wasn't born in the United States and is thus an illegitimate president.
During a fundraiser, Clinton first stirred the controversy when she described "half of Trump supporters" as "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it," summing them up as a "basket of deplorables." The remarks were quickly seized upon by the Trump campaign, with the candidate himself tweeting, "Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters," and defending them as "amazing, hard working people."
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence followed suit, condemning Clinton's remarks and denying that his ticket's supporters were a "basket of anything."
The truth of the matter is that the men and women who support Donald Trump's campaign are hard-working Americans. Farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans, members of our law enforcement community, members of every class of this country, who know that we can make America great again. So let me just say from the bottom of my heart: Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans, and they deserve your respect.
It remains to be seen whether Clinton's initial remarks will have any meaningful effect on the race. To say there's a bit of a double standard here would be an understatement. If you lined up the most offensive candidate remarks of the race so far, you could probably nab at least 50 or 60 comments from Trump that would outrank this, and indeed, any single statement Clinton's made this campaign season.
Also, Trump basically never apologizes for any controversy or offense (the closest he's ever come was a non-specific reference to "regret"), which is clearly a standard to which countless pundits don't hold Clinton. In any case, Clinton's comments come with the race at its tightest point in weeks, with her post-convention polling highs dropping to a narrow national lead.