Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton backtracked somewhat late Saturday from comments in which she had blasted "half" the supporters of conservative rival Donald trump as "irredeemable" hate-mongers.
Speaking apparently without a prepared text to a fundraising event late Friday in New York, she told supporters: "You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic - you name it."
Later, Clinton said: "Some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."
When the comments were reported and video of the speech spread online, Trump tweeted that Clinton's comments were "so insulting."
"How can she be president of our country when she has such contempt and disdain for so many great Americans?" he asked.
Clinton later sought to clarify her comments.
"Last night I was 'grossly generalistic,' and that's never a good idea," she said in a campaign statement. "I regret saying 'half' - that was wrong."
Clinton's statement listed some of Trump's own most infamous inflammatory incidents: attacking a Latino judge hearing a lawsuit against one of the billionaire's businesses, criticizing the parents of a Muslim-American military officer who died in combat, and his retweets of what she called "fringe bigots."
Testy exchanges continued on Twitter.
Trump tweeted: "While Hillary said horrible things about my supporters, and while many of her supporters will never vote for me, I still respect them all!"
Clinton retweeted Trump's comment along with her own retort: "Except for African Americans, Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, women, veterans - and any so-called 'losers' or 'dummies.'"