At the presidential debate, Lester Holt asked Trump the question everyone has been asking since Trump grudgingly proclaimed that he no longer believed that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. It was an inevitable question, and yet Trump seemed wholly unprepared to answer it. Instead, he flailed around for a while. First, he blamed Sid Blumenthal, a former Clinton aide, for starting the birther movement. (He didn’t.) And then he claimed that what he was doing was actually heroic: He just wanted the truth! Why weren’t journalists asking about the birther question? Trump had to do it! (Journalists weren’t asking because Obama had settled the issue of his citizenship when he ran in 2008.)
That’s when Hillary Clinton went in for the kill, attacking Trump for his long, long record of racism. “Just listen to what you heard,” she said, appealing to the audience. “He tried to put the whole racist, birther lie to bed. But it can’t be dismissed that easily. He has started his campaign activity based on this racist lie ... because some of his supporters believed it or wanted to believe it.” And then she hit him for his decades of racist behavior:
Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the justice department for racial discrimination...
He has a long record in engaging in racist behavior. And the birther lie was a very difficult one. Barack Obama is a man of great integrity. I would like to remember what Michelle Obama said ... When they go low, we go high.
It was a masterful answer from Clinton. She got the point across—Trump is a racist—but she did it while simultaneously going high.