In what might have been her strongest speech of the campaign, Hillary Clinton made a compelling case against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon. “I believe that the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job,” Clinton said in the foreign policy-focused speech. “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different,” Clinton told the San Diego crowd, “they are dangerously incoherent.”
Clinton tapped into the reservations that many Republicans themselves have expressed about Trump (well, until they all endorsed him), arguing that his showmanship lacked the depth and insight necessary to govern a country, let alone control one of the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles. She pointed to Trump’s “bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies” to paint a portrait of a man deeply unfit to lead. “Imagine if he didn’t have just his Twitter account when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal,” Clinton said.
Predictably, Trump tweeted about the speech, using his nickname for Clinton, “Crooked Hillary Clinton,” he called her as he criticized her appearance and delivery. Clinton’s campaign had clearly anticipated Trump, retweeting it with a line she had just delivered:
In her speech, Clinton pointed also to Trump’s equally dangerous and incoherent foreign policies, including his promise to leave NATO and his public commitment to torture civilians for the crime of being related to potential terrorists. She reiterated, as many have, that many of his foreign policy proposals are, in fact, war crimes. “I will leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” she said about Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It was a sharp critique of Trump’s policies and his sideshow treatment of what should be a serious endeavor. More importantly, it hinted around at the potential dangers of the “anyone but Hillary” narrative, creating a clear dichotomy between herself and the ideologies represented by Trump; a not-so-subtle rebuke of the handful of endorsements Trump has garnered from Republicans who, but a few weeks ago, uttered “never Trump.”
Electing Trump, Clinton said, “would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are.” She argued that Trump’s platform was ideologically thin and built on an “angry” vision of American that sees a country in “steep decline.” Clinton, in a very Obama-esque turn, said that her vision was “hopeful and generous,” one that fundamentally rejected the narrative of a country in decline, one that was “confident that America is great.”
In some respect, it was the speech that many voters have been waiting for Clinton to give, conciliatory to both the Warren/Sanders wing of the party and the “Never Trump” Republicans that remain. Sincere-seeming in its delivery and message, Clinton’s speech was essentially a simple reminder that Trump’s election to the White House would, at its core, be fundamentally dangerous. “We cannot put the safety of our children and our grandchild in Donald Trump’s hands,” Clinton said. “We cannot let him roll the dice with America.”
Image via AP.