Clinton Casts Trump as Unfit to Lead Military
Hillary Clinton gave a 40-minute speech to veterans, painting Donald Trump as dangerous and unqualified to be their future Commander-in-Chief.
The Hill reports:
Hillary Clinton cast Donald Trump as unqualified for the role of commander in chief in a speech to a veterans group on Wednesday meant to draw a contrast in leadership with the Republican presidential nominee, who is traveling abroad.
Speaking at the American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, described Trump as erratic, dangerous and a threat to U.S. security.
Throughout the 40-minute speech, Clinton never once mentioned Trump by name, even as she warned that he would bring only “name-calling and temper tantrums to Washington.”
Instead, Clinton referred to Trump as her “opponent,” or nodded to his past controversial remarks by pledging to never “disrespect” Gold Star families or former prisoners of war.
“I believe we do have better days ahead, but things could also get worse,” Clinton said. “If more countries get nuclear weapons, if we abandon our allies, if our commander in chief orders our military to break the laws and commit torture or murder terrorist family members. That’s why it is so critical we get this right.”
As Clinton spoke, Trump was en route to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto — a high-stakes gamble for the GOP nominee, who will give a speech outlining his position on immigration later this evening in Phoenix, Ariz.
Clinton dismissed the trip as a “photo-op” meant to repair the damage Trump has done running for president as a hard-line immigration hawk for the past year.
“You don’t build a coalition by insulting our friends or acting like a loose cannon,” Clinton said. “You do it by doing the slow, hard work of building relationships. That was my job every day as your secretary of State. It’s more than a photo-op … and it certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again. That’s not how it works.”
Clinton pointed to a letter circulated earlier this month signed by 50 top Republican national security officials who warned that Trump is inexperienced, reckless, morally unscrupulous and would jeopardize the nation’s safety in the Oval Office.
The treatise was signed by aides and Cabinet members of past GOP administrations, and was particularly heavy on former officials from the Bush administrations.
Earlier in the day, the Clinton campaign rolled out its latest Republican endorsement, this one from James Clad, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush.
Clinton said she was “deeply honored” to have so many Republicans backing her campaign.
“I hope you will join the growing number of Democrats, Republicans and independents who are supporting our vision for the kind of future that we want for our country,” Clinton said. “This election shouldn’t be about ideology. It’s not just about differences over policy; it truly is about who has the experience and temperament to serve as commander in chief.”
Trump, who will address the same convention on Thursday, has embraced the criticism from former Republican national security officials, saying it comes from the “Washington elites” who are to “blame for making the world such a dangerous place.”
The Trump campaign responded to Clinton’s American Legion speech with a flurry of rebuttals from Ohio veterans who accused Clinton of gross negligence as secretary of State.
“Hillary Clinton has shown behavior unworthy to serve as Commander-in-Chief by exposing our nation’s secrets to our enemies as Secretary of State,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), an Army Reserve officer, said in a statement. “She represents a continuation of failed and dangerous foreign policy and failure to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs here at home.”
Clinton on Wednesday also sought to draw a contrast with Trump’s grim depiction of a U.S. in crisis.
Central to the GOP nominee’s pitch is that Washington lawmakers have reduced the nation to rubble and that only an outsider with executive experience like himself will up-end the status quo and return the country to greatness.
Trump has been criticized by Democrats for painting a sinister picture of the state of the nation that focuses on crumbling infrastructure, mass unemployment and rampant crime.
“There’s no question we face real threats and real enemies that we need to confront and defeat, but my opponent is wrong when he says America is no longer great,” Clinton said.
She also argued that the U.S. must continue to be a global leader militarily and diplomatically by spreading the idea of “American exceptionalism” around the world.
“My friends, we are so lucky to be Americans,” Clinton said. “It is an extraordinary blessing. It’s why so many people from so many places want to be Americans, too. But it’s also a serious responsibility. The decisions we make and the actions we take … affect millions, even billions, of lives.
“You may wonder how anyone can disagree,” Clinton continued. “But, in fact, my opponent in this race has said very clearly that he thinks American exceptionalism is insulting to the rest of the world.”
The term “American exceptionalism” has largely been the domain of Republican officials who have in the past accused Democrats of putting their allegiances to multiculturalism, globalism and foreign countries ahead of U.S. interests.
But Trump has said that he finds the term “insulting” because foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin don’t want to hear about how the U.S. is better than their own country.
President Obama has also said that other countries may find the term insulting because they view themselves as exceptional.
Clinton has spent much of August out of public view, content to allow Trump to hog the spotlight.
The Democratic nominee has been holding private campaign fundraisers and preparing for next month’s presidential debate, appearing only occasionally for rallies, speeches or interviews.
The Trump campaign has sought to highlight Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail, raising questions about her physical health, using the hashtag “#HidingHillary,” and drawing attention to the fact that it has been nearly 10 months since she last held an impromptu press conference.
Trump’s address to the American Legion on Thursday caps off a busy week, in which he’ll have held a rally in Washington, met with the president of Mexico in Mexico City, and given a much-anticipated speech on immigration in Arizona.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.