Hillary Clinton blasted Donald Trump‘s anti-Muslim rhetoric as “not only shameful and offensive” but “dangerous” on Monday night during a town hall hosted by the Iowa Democratic Party and Drake University.
Clinton’s critique of the GOP front-runner came after Erum Tariq-Munir, a Muslim American woman who served in the U.S. Air Force and has three young children, asked the former secretary of state how she plans to protect the constitutional rights of all groups of people without marginalizing any one community.
“One of the most distressing aspects of this campaign has been the language of Republican candidates, particularly their front-runner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people. He has cast a wide net,” Clinton said of Trump. “He started on Mexicans. He’s currently on Muslims. But I found it particularly harmful the way that he has talked about Muslims – American Muslims and Muslims around the world.”
Trump has drawn the ire of politicians on both sides of the aisle for his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. Clinton has previously called the plan “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive,” a sentiment she doubled down on at the town hall.
“I have called him out continuously about that,” she said. “It’s not only shameful and contrary to our values to say that people of a certain religion should never come to this country or to claim that there are no real people of the Muslim faith who share our values. And to have the kind of dismissive and insulting approach, it’s not only shameful and offensive – which it is – I think it’s dangerous.”
“It’s dangerous because American Muslims deserve better, and now their children and they are the target of Islamophobia, of threats. I’ve met a number of parents who have said their children are afraid to go to school because they’re worried about how they will be treated. And we cannot tolerate this. And we must stand up and say every person in this country deserves to be treated with respect and we must stand up against the bullying.”
Even as Clinton slammed the GOP front-runner, however, she insisted she could work with Republicans in office. “I have no problem in saying, ‘Yeah, we have political differences, we’re on opposite sides, but we’re going to work as hard as we can.’ And here’s what I know about how to get that done: It takes building relationships and that is one of the hardest things to do in politics over ideological and partisan lines.”
“So I’m going to be just giving them all bear hugs whether they like it or not,” she joked.
The debate, moderated by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, comes as Clinton and Sanders are polling neck and neck. In a new nationwide CNN/ORC poll, Clinton tops Sanders 52 percent to 38 percent among registered voters who are Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, but her lead over the Vermont senator is smaller than it’s been at any point since the field narrowed to three candidates. O’Malley is far behind at just 2 percent.