Hillary Clinton told reporters on Friday that she was “appalled” that Donald Trump did not correct a questioner at one of his events who incorrectly asserted that President Barack Obama was a Muslim.
“I was appalled,” Clinton said bluntly to a question from CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux. “Not only was it out of bounds, it was untrue. He should have from the beginning corrected that kind of rhetoric, that level of hatefulness.”
Clinton said she would call on Trump, especially, and all other candidates to “stop this descent into the kind of hateful, mean spirited, divisive rhetoric that we have seen too much of.”
At a Trump event in New Hampshire on Thursday, an unidentified man said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American. … That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Trump did not correct the man, responding “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”
Asked what Clinton would have done in that situation, the 2016 candidate said she doubted the person who asked that question would attend her event.
“But if that person would have been at my event, I would have called him out on it,” Clinton said. “And I would have said from the very beginning that has no place in a political discussion like the one we are trying to have here. And not only it is out of place and wrong, it is totally factually untrue. And to quite impugning the integrity of the President.”
Clinton would not call the sentiment expressed in the question racist, but said it was “prejudice” and “discriminatory.”
Asked if Trump should publicly apologize, Clinton said, “I hope he does.”
Democrats have quickly jumped on Trump’s failure to challenge the questioner. Clinton’s fellow Democratic hopefuls – Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley – condemned the remarks, and Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, said Trump showed “a complete lack of moral courage.”
Clinton’s comments came at a college affordability event in the University of New Hampshire, where the former secretary of state picked up the endorsement of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.
“Hillary’s strong record of leadership has proven she is the right person to lead our country and get things done,” Hassan said. “And that is why I am so proud to endorse her for president of the United States.”
CNN’s Theodore Schleifer contributed to this report.