Can­di­dates: He can’t lead. No, she can’t.

Clinton, Trump ex­change se­ries of barbs

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 -

TAMPA, Fla. — Hil­lary Clinton es­ca­lated her attacks on Don­ald Trump’s char­ac­ter and qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the pres­i­dency Tues­day, urg­ing the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee to “come clean” about his fi­nances and said she would con­tinue to press her ri­val to re­lease his tax re­turns un­til Elec­tion Day, declar­ing that “he clearly has some­thing to hide.”

The Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee called on Trump to re­veal de­tails about his com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Florida Repub­li­can At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pam Bondi, to whom Trump made a $25,000 po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion in 2013 as Bondi was con­sid­er­ing in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims against Trump Univer­sity, the em­bat­tled for­profit ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness. Crit­ics say the do­na­tion crossed eth­i­cal lines.

Trump lobbed attacks of his own. In an in­ter­view with ABC that aired Tues- day, Trump­scru­ti­nized Clinton’s ap­pear­ance: “Well, I just don’t think she has a pres­i­den­tial look, and you need a pres­i­den­tial look,” he told ABC’s David Muir.

The in­ten­si­fied and highly per­sonal attacks come as the two ri­val cam­paigns en­ter the cru­cial win­dow be­tween La­bor Day and Elec­tion Day. And they fol­lowed a round of polls for Clinton sug­gest­ing that the na­tional advantage she has held for much of the sum­mer has di­min­ished slightly.

Trump has closed the polling gap with Clinton a bit in re­cent days, with a new CNN/ORC poll show­ing the real-es­tate mogul with a 45 to 43 per­cent edge among likely vot­ers na­tion­wide.

Be­tween per­sonal barbs, the two also ques­tioned each other’s na­tional se­cu­rity cre­den­tials through­out the day, ahead of a fo­rum in New York on Wed­nes­day at which Clinton and Trump are sched­uled to ap­pear back to back on MSNBCand Hil­lary Clinton and Don­ald Trump ques­tioned each other’s na­tional se­cu­rity cre­den­tials on the campaign trail Tues­day. NBC to dis­cuss is­sues that will con­front the coun­try’s next com­man­der in chief. It could serve as a warm-up to their first pres­i­den­tial de­bate on Sept. 26.

Ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers in Florida, Clinton ac­cused Trump of in­sult­ing Amer­ica’s veter­ans and press­ing dan­ger­ous mil­i­tary plans around the globe, seek­ing to un­der­cut his ap­peal to ser­vice fam­i­lies in South­ern vot­ing bat­tle­grounds.

She warned that Trump would lead the na­tion back to war in the Mid­dle East. And to mil­i­tary vets and their fam­i­lies, she pointed anew to his sum­mer­time dust-up with the Muslim par­ents of a slain Amer­i­can sol­dier.

Trump, try­ing em­pha­size his mil­i­tary sup­port, re­leased a let­ter from 88 re­tired gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals cit­ing an ur­gent need for a “course cor­rec­tion” in Amer­ica’s na­tional se­cu­rity pol­icy. It was aimed at re­but­ting Clinton’s ar­gu­ments that she would be best po­si­tioned to lead the mil­i­tary and re­as­sur­ing Repub­li­cans who have openly wor­ried that his provoca­tive state­ments might un­der­mine U.S. al­liances.

“We be­lieve that such a change can only be made by some­one who has not been deeply in­volved with, and sub­stan­tially re­spon­si­ble for, the hol­low­ing out of our mil­i­tary and the bur­geon­ing threats fac­ing our coun­try around the world,” the mil­i­tary lead­ers wrote. “For this rea­son, we sup­port Don­ald Trump’s can­di­dacy to be our next com­man­der in chief.”

Trump held a town-hall gath­er­ing on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues in Vir­ginia Beach, Va., on Tues­day af­ter­noon. Dur­ing the event, Trump mocked Clinton’s abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate with world lead­ers. “You know, Hil­lary likes to play tough with Rus­sia. Putin looks at her and he laughs. OK? He laughs. Putin looks at Hil­lary Clinton and he smiles. Boy, would he like to see her,” Trump said. “That would be easy, be­cause look at her de­ci­sions.”

Clinton pushed back, say­ing Trump has lagged in se­cur­ing key mil­i­tary sup­port­ers com­pared to past Repub­li­can nom­i­nees in­clud­ing John McCain and Mitt Rom­ney. She pointed to her en­dorse­ments from re­tired Marine Gen. John Allen, who blasted Trump at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, and for­mer CIA deputy di­rec­tor Mike Morell.

Trump promised to fix prob­lems at the Veter­ans Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has grap­pled with pa­tient-care mis­man­age­ment dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Un­til those prob­lems are re­solved, he said he would al­low veter­ans to seek treat­ment at pri­vate doc­tors or hos­pi­tals free of charge.

Aboard her campaign plane, Clinton told re­porters that some­times Trump gets a pass be­cause peo­ple have grown to ex­pect less from him. She ticked off a list of what she char­ac­ter­ized as ques­tion­able as­pects of Trump’s fi­nances, in­clud­ing the mul­ti­ple times his com­pa­nies have de­clared bank­ruptcy.

The Trump campaign fired back, point­ing to Clinton’s nar­row­ing lead and ac­cus­ing her of fail­ing to campaign ag­gres­sively enough in Au­gust.



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