When asked Wednesday night if she believes Donald Trump is a racist, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders sidestepped the question, with Clinton calling his rhetoric "un-American."
Clinton, who was asked the question by the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty, argued that there will be "a lot of time to talk" about time in the future, adding that his "trafficking in prejudice and paranoia has no place" in political discourse.
"If I'm so fortunate enough to be the Democratic nominee, there will be a lot of time to talk about him. I was the first one to call him out. I called him out when he was calling Mexicans rapists, when he was engaging in rhetoric that I found deeply offensive," Clinton said.
"I said basta, and I am pleased that others — others are also joining in making clear that his rhetoric, his demagoguery, his trafficking in prejudice and paranoia has no place in our political system, especially from somebody running for president who couldn't decide whether or not to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke. So people can draw their own conclusions about him," Clinton said, adding that "you don't make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great."
When pressed further on Trump's character, Clinton told the co-moderator that the real estate mogul doesn't exude "American values."
"I think it's un-American. I think what he has promoted is not at all in keeping with American values ... and I am going to take every opportunity to criticize him, to raise those issues. I'm not going to engage in the kind of language that he uses," Clinton said. "I think we can make the case against him, if he is the nominee, by pointing out what he has said, what he claims to believe in, the values he's promoting, and I think that's a better way for the American people to draw their conclusions."
Following Clinton's lead, Sanders also ducked the question, using his answer to attack Trump for questioning where President Obama was born in the lead-up to the 2012 election. The Vermont senator argued that no one has asked him where he was born likely because of the "color of my skin." Sanders made the point after telling attendees that his father was born in Poland.
"I think that the American people are never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults African-Americans — and let us not forget that several years ago, Trump was in the middle of the so-called birther movement trying to delegitimize the president of the United States of America," Sanders said. "You know, I find it very interesting ... my dad was born in Poland. I know a little bit about the immigrant experience. Nobody has ever asked me for my birth certificate. Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin."
Sanders also noted that he is pleased with head-to-head polls against Trump recently, showing him in the lead over the real estate tycoon.