WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — In a leaked recording from a February fundraiser, Hillary Clinton expressed empathy for young voters who were siding with her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, saying that for people who don't see any economic opportunities, the idea that "you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing."
Clinton called them "children of the Great Recession" and added: "And they are living in their parents' basement. They feel that they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves."
Donald Trump sought to turn her words into a new pitch for Sanders supporters, although Sanders himself has endorsed Clinton and denounced Trump. The businessman contended at a Saturday night rally in Pennsylvania that the audio shows Clinton "demeaning and mocking Bernie Sanders and all of his supporters" and added: "To sum up, Hillary Clinton thinks Bernie Sanders supporters are hopeless and ignorant basement dwellers."
The hacked recording of Clinton speaking at the fundraiser six months ago in McLean, Virginia, was published Tuesday by the Washington Free Beacon. In its report, the online conservative newspaper told readers that audio of Clinton's comments was revealed by hackers who breached the email account of a campaign staffer. One email released by the hackers contained a recording of Clinton's remarks and a question-and-answer session, the Beacon reported.
Young voters have been a stumbling block for Clinton. Many preferred Sanders, a Vermont senator who promised free tuition at public colleges and nationalized health care.
At the fundraiser, Clinton said she had spoken with frustrated young millennials and understood where they were coming from. She questioned the idea of a political revolution, calling it a "false promise," though she said she didn't want to dampen idealism. She argued that she too was promising big ideas around health care, education and climate change.
In a statement issued after Clinton's remarks drew criticism, Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said: "As Hillary Clinton said in those remarks, she wants young people to be idealistic and set big goals."
Throughout the Democratic primary, Clinton stressed that she was offering a more pragmatic, achievable agenda than Sanders. She has wooed his young backers for months, adapting some of her policies — among them college affordability — to better appeal to his supporters.
At another point in the February fundraiser, Clinton spoke about the extremes on both sides of the political aisle, noting a "populist, nationalist, xenophobic, discriminatory kind of approach" from many in the Republican field and then said that for many Democrats, there is a yearning for "free college, free healthcare," and to "go as far as, you know, Scandinavia."
Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Manheim, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.