Candidates: He can’t lead. No, she can’t.
Clinton, Trump exchange series of barbs
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.