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Trump, Clinton Exchange Barbed Accusations About Racial Issues

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) -- Harsh new attack lines were fired off Thursday on both sides of the presidential campaign trail.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reported, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a "bigot" Wednesday night. A day later, the Clinton campaign was fighting back.

"We know who Trump is," Clinton said, speaking at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. "He says he wants to 'Make America Great Again' but, more and more, it seems as though his real message seems to be 'Make America Hate Again.'"

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Clinton had planned to spend her day in Reno, her first public campaign stop in a week, talking about her new plan to help small businesses. But after Trump lobbed attack after attack at her -- culminating in his calling her a "bigot" at a rally on Wednesday -- Clinton chose instead to use her appearance here to tie her opponent to the "alt-right" movement, a political philosophy popular with conservative white nationalists.

Some alt-right supporters present Trump as an emperor in web-based depictions, while praising his talk of a deportation force.

"Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters," Clinton said. "It's a disturbing preview of what a president he might be"

Without ever directly calling Trump "racist," Clinton accused the Republican nominee of peddling "racist lies" and conspiracy theories and allowing an extreme, far-right movement to take over his party.

"Of course there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it rising from racial resentment," Clinton said. "But it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now."

Clinton's speech stemmed, at least in part, from Trump's recent hire of Breitbart's Steve Bannon as the CEO of his campaign. Under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart notoriously embraced the "alt-right" movement's anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic point of view.

Her damning portrayal of Trump and his campaign also comes as Trump makes a new, and somewhat controversial, effort to reach out to minority voters. Last week in Michigan, Trump painted a dark picture of African-American life in America, and promised that he would "produce" for "inner city" communities if elected. In recent days, following a meeting with Hispanic leaders at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, Trump has appeared to step away from one of the signature proposals of his campaign: to round up and deport large numbers of illegal immigrants.

"I am asking for the honor of your vote so that I can fight for you," Trump said on Wednesday in Tampa. "That's African-American, that's Hispanic and that's all Americans. We are gonna make it better, much, much better."

Clinton warned voters waiting for a "kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump" not to hold their breath. In her remarks, she recalled Trump's record of housing discrimination against African Americans early in his career -- "their applications would be marked with a 'C,' 'C' for colored," she said -- and his role in promoting "birther" theories about President Barack Obama.

"This is what I want to make clear today," she said. "A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far reaches of the Internet, should never run our government or command our military."

She said "the hard truth" is this: "There's no other Donald Trump."

The Clinton campaign even went as far as releasing web video linking Trump's supporters with the Ku Klux Klan.

"The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in," the video says.

Trump said Clinton is lying and smearing and his supporters.

"When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only one tired argument – 'You're racist, you're racist, you're racist' – they keep saying it. 'You're racist,'" Trump said. "It's a tired, disgusting argument."

Trump tweeted that Clinton is using "fear-mongering" and "race-baiting" tactics.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway denied the accusations about the "alt-right" movement.

"We've never even discussed it internally," Conway told "CBS This Morning." "It certainly isn't part of our strategy meetings. It's nothing Mr. Trump says on the stump."

Trump on Thursday met with members of a new Republican Party initiative meant to train young -- and largely minority -- campaign volunteers.

More than a dozen members of the Republican Leadership Institute met with Trump Thursday morning at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's communications director, were among those present.


Marilyn Miller, a retired law enforcement official, said they discusses jobs and education.

"The message was talking about the number one issue plaguing minority communities was education, and we had a laid out plan is before we can get the good jobs we've gotta be properly trained for it," televangelist Pastor Mark Burns of South Carolina told 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa.

Burns said he believes that Trump as a businessman will provide viable economic opportunities and jobs for the minority community.

Pastor Mark Burns
Pastor Mark Burns arrives for a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Aug. 25, 2016 (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Anti-Trump demonstrators gathered outside the meeting place, holding signs reading "Trump = Always Racist" and "Trump Comments: The Definition of Racism."

Protester Eric Cruz-Lopez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, said Trump wants to ruin educational opportunities.

"We're here to let him know that we will not be fooled by his last minute pandering, three months before the election," he said.

The meeting comes as Trump tries to increase his outreach to black and Latino voters, saying his economic policies would help minorities.

"We have great relationships with the African-American community," Trump said.

He claimed that Democrats have been "very disrespectful'' toward minorities and taken their support for granted. Polls show minorities overwhelmingly favor Clinton.

After the meeting, Trump appeared for a rally in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

Trump was asked Thursday night about why he called Clinton a bigot. He said her policies are bigoted because she knows they are not going to work.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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