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Lemon raises Trump's 'racist rhetoric' to candidates after president's criticism

CNN anchor Don LemonDon Carlton LemonCNN’s Lemon accuses Trump officials of ‘white-mansplaining’ on systemic racism Webb: The modern age of dissent versus riot Birdwatcher questions whether response to woman who called police on him was ‘proportionate’ MORE on Wednesday pressed Democratic presidential candidates on how they would address racial tensions in the country by noting the issue has been escalated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s “racist rhetoric.”

Lemon asked multiple candidates about the topic hours after Trump bashed the debate moderator for bringing the president into questions about race a night earlier.

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“Why are you the best candidate to heal the racial divide that exists in this country today, which has been stoked by the president’s racist rhetoric,” Lemon asked Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSome realistic solutions for income inequality Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd 21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests MORE (D-Colo.).

Lemon asked former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D) how he would help struggling cities “after the president’s racist tweets attacking Baltimore and Congressman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe sad spectacle of Trump’s enablers Democrat Kweisi Mfume wins House primary in Maryland Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries MORE.”

“First of all the president is a racist and that was just one more example of it,” Castro responded, before explaining he would invest in education opportunities for kids in those communities.

Trump took issue with Lemon’s questioning a night earlier, when the moderator said the president “is pursuing a reelection strategy based in part, on racial division.”

“CNN’s Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television, insinuated last night while asking a debate ‘question’ that I was a racist, when in fact I am ‘the least racist person in the world,'” Trump tweeted. “Perhaps someone should explain to Don that he is supposed to be neutral, unbiased & fair or is he too dumb (stupid) to understand that.”

Lawmakers condemned Trump’s comments as racist earlier this month after he told four congresswomen of color to “go back” to their countries. All four are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the country.

The president again drew allegations of racism over the weekend by repeatedly attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) and the majority-black Maryland district he represents.

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