Calling the real estate magnate's campaign as one that will "make America hate again," Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump has unleashed the "radical fringe" within the Republican Party, including anti-Semites and white supremacists.
Trump is rejecting Clinton's allegations, defending his hard-line approach to immigration while trying to make the case to minority voters that Democrats have abandoned them.
The back-and-forth accusations came Thursday as the two candidates vie for minorities and any undecided voters with less than three months until Election Day. Weeks before the first early voting, Trump faces the urgent task of revamping his image to win over those skeptical of his candidacy.
In a tweet shortly after Clinton wrapped up her speech in the swing state of Nevada, Trump said she "is pandering to the worst instincts in our society. She should be ashamed of herself!"
Clinton is eager to capitalize on Trump's slipping poll numbers, particularly among moderate Republican women turned off by his controversial campaign. "Don't be fooled" by Trump's efforts to rebrand, she told voters at a speech in Reno, saying the country faced a "moment of reckoning."
"He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America's two major political parties," she said.
Trump tried to get ahead of the Democratic nominee, addressing a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire just minutes before Clinton.
"Hillary Clinton is going to try to accuse this campaign, and the millions of decent Americans who support this campaign, of being racists," Trump predicted.
"To Hillary Clinton, and to her donors and advisers, pushing her to spread her smears and her lies about decent people, I have three words," he said. "I want you to hear these words, and remember these words: Shame on you."
Trump tried to turn the tables on Clinton, suggesting she was trying to distract from questions swirling around donations to The Clinton Foundation and her use of her private email servers.
"She lies, she smears, she paints decent Americans as racists," said Trump, who then defended some of the core — and to some people, divisive — ideas of his candidacy.
Clinton did not address any of the accusations about her family foundation in her remarks. Instead, she offered a strident denouncement of Trump's campaign and the so-called alt-right movement, which is often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve "white identity," oppose multiculturalism and defend "Western values."
Clinton's campaign also released an online video that compiles footage of prominent white supremacist leaders praising Trump.
Trump, who also met Thursday in New York with members of a new Republican Party initiative meant to train young — and largely minority — volunteers, has been working to win over blacks and Latinos in light of his past inflammatory comments and has been claiming that the Democrats have taken minority voters' support for granted. "They've been very disrespectful, as far as I'm concerned, to the African-American population in this country," Trump said.
Many black leaders and voters have dismissed Trump's message as condescending and intended more to reassure undecided white voters that he's not racist.
Cornell William Brooks, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" Thursday that Trump has not reached out to the organization for any reason. He added that Trump refused the group's invitation to speak at its convention.
"We're going to make it clear: You don't get to the White House unless you travel through the doors of the NAACP," Brooks said. "More importantly, you don't get to the White House without addressing the nation's civil rights agenda."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.