Protester hit at rally as Trump decries deplorables comment

ASHEVILLE — A protester was punched at a campaign rally for Donald Trump in North Carolina as the Republican presidential candidate decried his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for dismissing his supporters as “deplorables.” “Never in history has a major party presidential candidate so viciously demonized the American voter,” Trump told the crowd in Asheville on Monday night just before an anti-Trump protest broke out. An apparent Trump supporter grabbed a male protester’s neck then clenched his fist and punched him, video from NBC and ABC showed. The protesters were then escorted out. Asheville’s Citizen-Times newspaper said four people were arrested at the rally. The Buncombe County clerk’s office confirmed the names of three arrested adults in the article but could not confirm the location of the arrests. Trump was referring to a comment last week by Clinton who said half of the New York businessman’s supporters were a “basket of deplorables,” a comment she later said she regretted. On Tuesday, Trump again hammered Clinton over the remark in a post on Facebook: “What a disgraceful thing to say about fellow- hard working Americans! Vote Trump on November 8th — keep Hillary’s HATE away from Washington, D.C.” Trump himself has come under fire for rhetoric against minorities during his campaign for the Nov. 8 election, including describing Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, suggesting a judge could not be fair because of his Mexican-American heritage, and proposing a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Scuffles between supporters and protesters have broken out a number of times at Trump rallies.TRUMP ON CHILD CARE On Tuesday, Trump appeared at a campaign event in suburban Philadelphia touting proposals that would allow families to deduct child-care expenses from their income taxes and establish paid maternity leave for women whose employers do not offer it. The plan, he said, was aimed to bolster working-class and middle-class families. With his daughter Ivanka at his side, Trump also appeared to support equal pay for women. “We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work and have access to affordable quality child care for their work,” Trump said. As he did earlier in the day at a rally in Des Moines, Trump steered clear of mentioning Clinton’s illness but stepped up efforts to wring maximum advantage from her controversial comment that his supporters are “deplorables.” “While my opponent slanders you as deplorable and irredeemable, I call you hardworking American patriots who love your country,” said Trump, who has tried to portray the former first lady as out of touch with ordinary Americans. After struggling in opinion polls in August, Trump has erased most of Clinton’s lead in national surveys and is competitive again in many battleground states, where the White House race is likely to be decided. Reuters News Service contributed to this report.