Donald Trump struck back Monday against Hillary Clinton’s “demonizing” of his supporters, saying the Democratic presidential nominee revealed her true colors when she described his backers as “deplorables” and showed just how out of touch she is with millions of ordinary Americans.
In a new television ad and on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton’s attack — as well as her response to the blowback — is unbefitting the presidency and “disqualifies her from public service.”
“While Hillary Clinton lives a sequestered life behind gates and walls and guards, she mocks and demeans hard-working Americans who only want their own families to enjoy a fraction of the security enjoyed by our politicians,” Mr. Trump said at the annual conference of the National Guard Association of the United States.
“You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voters — and she does,” he said. “You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion for its citizens.”
In a phone interview on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump said that when he heard the comment, he “thought that it was not something that was within the realm of possible that she would have said it.”
The Republican presidential nominee said that being elected to the White House means: “You’re president of all the people.”
The Trump camp hammered home the same message in a new ad that the campaign said is set to run in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina — battleground states the Republican is slated to visit this week.
With Mrs. Clinton sidelined by health issues, Mr. Trump is projecting an image of endurance — stacking up campaign events, vowing to release results from a recent physical and delivering an aggressive defense of his supporters. His campaign also announced that a CIA director under former President Bill Clinton is joining his camp as a senior adviser.
James Woolsey, who has been sharply critical of President Obama’s foreign policy, says he agrees with Mr. Trump’s call to spend more on the military, and said that when serving as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton “demonstrated a complete lack of understanding and an inability to lead the agency she headed in such a way as to maintain its mission and security.”
Mr. Trump was all over the place on Monday, calling into television talk shows and bouncing between campaign stops, wishing Mrs. Clinton a speedy recovery along the way and touting his robust schedule as a sign of strength.
“If you look at my scheduling in compared to anybody else’s, there is not even a contest,” Mr. Trump said on CNBC. “I have found the whole challenge to be very invigorating.”
Compared to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has held twice as many public events this month, according to a running tally from Democracy in Action, including campaign stops Monday in Baltimore and North Carolina.
After his National Guard speech, Mr. Trump visited the Boulevard Diner outside Baltimore and was greeted by cheers and chants of “Trump!” One woman behind the counter screamed “Oh, my God, he’s so handsome” after spotting the celebrity businessman. Mr. Trump also signed several autographs, including some patrons’ shirts.
The events came a day after Mrs. Clinton appeared to faint during an early exit from a Sept. 11 commemoration event in New York. Her campaign said later she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Mrs. Clinton canceled plans to travel to California on Monday and Tuesday in order to return home to New York to rest, leaving Mr. Trump all alone on the campaign trail.
Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist, said Mr. Trump, who has at least a half-dozen more events penciled in this week, is trying to make the most of Mrs. Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail.
“He is trying to subliminally make the case that he has the stamina to be commander in chief, and she doesn’t,” Mr. O’Connell said. “They are going to go about their business and make Trump as visual as possible to show that he is the person best fit to [be] president, at least from a physical standpoint.”
For his part, Mr. Trump told “Fox & Friends” Monday that he hopes Mrs. Clinton “gets well and gets back on the trail,” and said questions about the health of a candidate is fair game.
“In fact, this last week I took a physical, and I’ll be releasing [the report] when the numbers come in,” Mr. Trump said. “Hopefully they’re going to be good. I think they are going to be good. I feel great. But when the numbers come in, I’ll be releasing very, very specific numbers.”
Mr. Trump focused most of his time Monday taking political umbrage with Mrs. Clinton’s assertion at a New York fundraiser last week that “half” of his supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables” — referring to them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
Mrs. Clinton later apologized, saying her use of “half” had been “grossly generalistic,” though she maintained that Mr. Trump has “built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices.”
On Monday Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were the single biggest mistake of the campaign and said her response to the backlash has fallen short.
“If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, I don’t see how she can credibly campaign any further,” he said. “It was perhaps the most explicit attack ever spoken by a major party presidential nominee.”
The Clinton camp dismissed the criticism, saying, “Trump has spent the entire campaign offering divisive views that have given rise to far too much hatred and bigotry — Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will continue to call that out.”
• This story is based in part on wire service dispatches.