Pence, after Trump, denounces Clinton calling supporters ‘deplorables,’ says disrespectful

Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence followed running-mate Donald Trump on Saturday in denounced Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton for calling their supporters “deplorables,” saying they are “Americans, and they deserve your respect.”

Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, said at a New York fundraiser Friday night that half of Trump-Pence supporters could be put into a "basket of deplorables."

“Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” Clinton said. “There are people like that and he has lifted them up.”

Clinton attempted at the fundraiser to qualify her remarks by saying they were "grossly general-istic" and that the other 50 percent of Trump supporters are frustrated by hard times and merit sympathy.

However, Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, then Pence seized on her remarks throughout the day.

“The men and women who support Donald Trump's campaign are hard-working Americans, farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans, members of our law enforcement community, members of every class of this country,” Pence said at the annual gathering of conservatives in Washington, D.C., known as the Value Voters Summit.

“They are not a basket of anything, they are Americans, and they deserve your respect. … No one with that low opinion of the American people should ever be elected president of the United States of America.”

Earlier in the day Trump tweeted: “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard-working people” tweeted Trump, after Clinton’s comments at a Friday night New York fundraiser. “I think it will cost her at the Polls!”

Clinton was speaking at an LGBT fundraiser in New York City, where she encouraged supporters to "stage an intervention" if they have friends considering voting for Trump.

"That may be one conversion therapy I'd endorse," said Clinton, referring to a type of counseling designed to urge gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children to change their sexual orientation. She later clarified that she wants to end the practice.

Singer Barbra Streisand, who performed at the fundraiser, altered the lyrics of the Stephen Sondheim song "Send In The Clowns" to mock Trump, referring to the real estate mogul as a "sad, vulgar clown."

Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement that Clinton had "revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans" and called the remarks an "inexcusable mistake."

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill defended the candidate in tweets of his own.

"Obviously not everyone supporting Trump is part of the alt-right, but alt-right leaders are with Trump," he said. "And their supporters appear to make up half his crowd when you observe the tone of his events.”

The fundraiser capped a day in which Trump again attacked Clinton's credibility. He said Clinton was being "protected" during the Justice Department's investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

"She could walk right into this arena right now and shoot somebody with 20,000 people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart, and she wouldn't be prosecuted," Trump said at a rally in Pensacola, Fla.

Trump also faced criticism from within his own party for refusing to outline his plans for combating foreign policy challenges, including threats posed by ISIS. Trump said this week that he does indeed have a plan, but would convene military leaders in his first 30 days in office to craft another plan.

Trump has also faced criticism for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin during a high-profile national security forum earlier in the week, and appearing on a Russian-backed television network Thursday evening.

On Friday, Clinton said she was "disappointed" by Trump's decision to appear on RT America, saying that "every day that goes by this just becomes more and more of a reality television show. It's not a serious presidential campaign."

With several prominent Republican national security officials already concerned about Trump's national security acumen, Clinton has tried to cast herself as the better potential commander in chief. She has aggressively promoted her growing list of military endorsements from both parties.

On Friday, her campaign said the number of retired generals and admirals endorsing Clinton for president has grown to 110. Trump quickly countered by saying his list had ballooned to 120 former U.S. generals and admirals earlier in the week.

Pence received his first intelligence briefing Friday. He declined to offer any specifics since the information was classified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.