Albuquerque, New Mexico (CNN)Donald Trump on Tuesday defended comments he made two years before the housing market crashed -- in which he said he hoped the real estate market would collapse -- insisting he was simply a businessman eyeing an opportunity.
Trump on the defense over Clinton's housing market digs
Trump's response to the controversial comments came after likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign repeatedly attacked the New York billionaire over the remarks in recent days, including through an online video that accused him of rooting for the 2008 financial crisis.
"Yeah, if it goes down I'm gonna buy ... I'm a businessman, that's what I'm supposed to do," Trump said. "If it goes down, it goes down. I feel badly for everybody. What am I going to do? It's business!"
Knocking the former secretary of state as a "low-life," the presumptive Republican nominee suggested Clinton was attacking him for wanting to buy housing "at a low point."
"'And he wanted to buy housing when it was low,'" Trump said, impersonating Clinton.
"Who the hell doesn't?" Trump said.
But Clinton's criticism has been aimed not at Trump's business savvy, but rather at the real estate mogul's apparent eagerness for the real estate market to crash -- a collapse that resulted in millions of Americans losing their homes and even more without a job.
Asked in a 2006 audiobook from Trump University about predictions the real estate market might collapse, Trump responded: "I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy."
"If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money," Trump said in the audiobook. "If you're in a good cash position -- which I'm in a good cash position today -- then people like me would go in and buy like crazy."
And in a March 2007 interview with the Globe and Mail, Trump said he was "excited" at the potential for the housing bubble to burst.
"I've always made more money in bad markets than in good markets," he had said.
Trump's response to his controversial comments came during a rally with several thousand supporters that was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, mostly immigration activists protesting Trump's hardline immigration policies that call for deporting all estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall on the southern border of the U.S.
The rally marked the first time Trump addressed the controversial comments in person, hours after he fired off a statement arguing that his remarks showed "the kind of thinking our country needs -- understanding how to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation."
Trump's decision to respond to Clinton showed the Democrat's ability to put Trump on the defense by homing in on a specific controversy involving the billionaire.
Clinton tweaked Trump as recently as Tuesday during a campaign rally, saying Trump was hoping for a crash so that he could "make some money for himself."
"He said 'I sort of hope that happens.' He actually said that," Clinton said. "And now he says he wants to roll back the financial regulations that we have imposed on Wall Street to let them run wild again. Well I will tell you what -- you and I together, we're not going to let him."
But Trump also went on the attack against Clinton, accusing her of supporting free trade agreements that have led to job losses in the U.S. and accusing her of being "so bad for African-American youth."
"She is not going to create jobs and she is going to be a disaster," Trump said.