Kansas City, Missouri (CNN)In speeches to the largest Latino civil rights group in the United States, Democratic presidential hopefuls blasted Donald Trump for comments the businessman turned Republican presidential candidate made about Mexicans that have enraged Latinos across the country.
Dems thump Trump at La Raza conference
"I don't have to wait to become president to take a stand right here and right now against the divisive rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and their families," Hillary Clinton said on Monday, calling Trump's comments "appalling."
"He is talking about people you and I know isn't he," Clinton said to an applauding audience in Kansas City. "And when people and business everywhere rejected his hateful comments, did he apologize? No. He doubled down. It is shameful and no one should stand for it."
Trump has used his nascent presidential campaign to focus on illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico. During his campaign announcement, Trump said that undocumented immigrants from Mexico were "murders" and "rapists."
Many Republicans have tried to distance themselves around from Trumps's comments, but Clinton and others Democrats contend that they didn't do it fast enough. In response, Democrats have tried to make Trump the symbol for all 15 Republicans running for president.
"Why did it take weeks for most of you to speak out," Clinton added on Monday. "You are normally such a talkative bunch. Suddenly you have nothing to say."
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, two of Clinton's Democratic opponents, also used their speeches to the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza to knock Trump.
"Not Donald Trump, not anyone else will be successful in dividing us based on race or our country of origin," Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd of about 400 people gathered here Monday for the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza. "Racism has plagued the United States since its inception," Sanders said while recalling his own family history including losing family members during the Holocaust.
After the speech, Sanders told reporters that Trump's comments were an "outrage."
"For a major candidate for president of the United States to be throwing slurs at one group of people because of the country of origin that they came from is totally unacceptable, period."
Sanders was asked twice whether Trump was a racist but both times he declined to answer. "I don't want to psychoanalyze Donald Trump," he said.
This was the second major speech Sanders has given to a national Latino group since announcing his candidacy. Last month, Sanders addressed the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Las Vegas where many in the audience were expecting him to deliver a stronger stance on immigration reform than he had in the past.
O'Malley also slammed Trump as "a hate-spewing character running for president," but said that problem for the Republican Party is "that it's so hard to tell him apart from the other candidates."
In particular, O'Malley said it was outrageous that Republicans are only "divided" on his comments.
"I know that all of us here today share my disgust with the comments Donald Trump recently made," O'Malley said to sustained applause from 1,500 people at the NCLR luncheon.
He latter added, "If Donald Trump wants to run on a platform of demonizing immigrants, then he should go back to the 1840s and run for the nomination of the Know Nothing Party."
Both Sanders and O'Malley focused on immigration reform during their speeches to the Kansas City crowd.
The Vermont senator called the issue "one critical piece that must be talked about" when talking about the Latino community. "Without these folks it is likely that out agricultural system would collapse," Sanders said.
Immigration reform was one of the key points in his speech to the Kansas City crowd on Monday where he called the issue "one critical piece that must be talked about" when talking about the Latino community. "Without these folks it is likely that out agricultural system would collapse," Sanders said.
Undocumented workers, he said, do the difficult work of "harvesting our crops, cooking our meals and caring for our children." Sanders called for "a responsible path to citizenship," for undocumented workers and reiterated his support for the DREAM Act and the children of undocumented immigrants who he described as "American kids who deserve the right to legally be in the country they know as home."
O'Malley pitched himself as someone who just doesn't talk about immigration, but takes action on it.
"Anyone can talk about it, but we actually did it," O'Malley said about immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
"Las palabras NO son hechos, del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho," he added, which loosely translates into action speaks louder than words.