Hillary Clinton has delivered her most forceful attack to date on her likely presidential election rival, calling Donald Trump dangerously thin-skinned and “temperamentally unfit” to occupy the Oval Office. In a major speech contrasting her foreign policy proposals with those of the presumptive Republican nominee, Ms Clinton described Mr Trump’s national security platform as a series of “bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
The address to supporters in San Diego came at the start of a campaign swing through California ahead of the Golden State’s primary on Tuesday, 7 June, where Ms Clinton hopes finally to finish off her Democratic challenger, the progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But her bullish remarks offered a taste of what looks set to be an unprecedentedly ugly general election campaign.
The former Secretary of State said the property mogul was “not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes,” adding: “It’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”
Ms Clinton began her speech by framing the November election as “a choice between a fearful America that is less secure and less engaged with the world, and a strong America that leads to keep us safe and our economy going.”
Countering Mr Trump’s signature rhetorical arguments about building a wall along the US-Mexican border and making America “great again,” she said: “We are not a country that cowers behind walls… If you really believe America is weak, you don’t know America and you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.”
The Democrat accused The Donald of having a “bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen” such as Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. “If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen,” she said.
Ms Clinton reeled off a list of her own foreign policy achievements and experience, including climate change negotiations with China and nuclear talks with Russia, as well as setting out her own plan to combat the Islamic State. Mr Trump, she claimed, “has no idea what he’d do to stop Isis,” adding that his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US would alienate America’s Middle Eastern allies and “play right into the hands of Isis.”
As the Clinton campaign moves slowly but surely towards the Democratic nomination, it has stepped up its attacks on Mr Trump, not least by highlighting his legal difficulties. Earlier this week, Ms Clinton described the billionaire Republican as a “fraud” who would “scam” Americans, just as he allegedly scammed the Trump University clients who have brought a lawsuit against him.
Positioning herself at minimum as a safe pair of hands, Ms Clinton said: “There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal, but it doesn’t work like that in world affairs… The stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels.”
Mr Trump’s political tools, she went on, consist of “bragging, mocking [and] composing nasty tweets.” Sure enough, Mr Trump provided Twitter commentary on his rival’s speech, writing: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the teleprompter [sic]! She doesn’t even look presidential!”