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Stung by criticism, Trump vows to work for ethnic harmony

  • Published at 08:33 pm June 12th, 2016
  • Last updated at 08:38 pm June 19th, 2016
Stung by criticism, Trump vows to work for ethnic harmony

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered a message of ethnic harmony on Friday at a Christian evangelical conference as he sought to calm concern about his criticism of a Mexican-American judge.

In a departure from his usual free-wheeling style, Trump read a carefully scripted speech from a teleprompter as part of a new push by his campaign to tone down the outspoken New Yorker’s harsh rhetoric.

Trump’s remarks included a wide-ranging attack on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and he said money aimed at resettling Syrian refugees in the United States should instead be spent on tackling poverty in US cities.

Speaking to the annual conference of the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition, Trump did not mention the controversy over his charge that US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel cannot treat him fairly because of his Mexican heritage. But Trump did make a point of saying he would represent all Americans if elected president on November 8.

Paul Ryan, the top elected US Republican, had criticised Trump for what he called a “textbook definition of a racist comment” for his remarks about the judge. Other Republican leaders warned Trump to change his tone or risk losing their support.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who led a movement to derail Trump’s nomination, told CNN he would not consider running for the White House.

Romney blasted Trump for comments that he said denigrated Mexicans, women and religion.

Romney said he expects Trump to get the Republican nomination, but said that he will not vote for either Trump or Clinton. He left open the possibility of casting a ballot for the Libertarian Party candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

As Trump sought to rally more Republicans behind him, Clinton met with US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to try and shore up support from the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Clinton later addressed the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the non-partisan arm of the women’s health group, and had Trump trained in her sights.

Clinton leads Trump by 11 percentage points, nearly the same as a week ago, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.

Syrian refugees

Trump on Friday criticised Clinton’s willingness to accept thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States and challenged her to “replace her support for increased refugee admission” in favour of a new jobs program for inner cities.

He stopped short of repeating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, a proposal that has drawn heavy fire from Republicans and Democrats.

At the funeral on Friday of boxing champion Muhammad Ali, a convert to Islam, one speaker, a rabbi, inveighed against politicians promoting intolerance of Muslims.

“We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people,” said Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine, who said he attended the ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky, as a representative of American Jews.

Trump said Clinton’s refusal to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” - favoured by Republicans to describe violent Islamist militants - makes her unfit to be president.

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