Clin­ton: Trump fails chief test

Dem hope­ful blasts GOP ri­val day af­ter U.S. se­cu­rity fo­rum

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Cather­ine Lucey and Steve Peo­ples Washington Bu­reau contributed.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hil­lary Clin­ton blasted Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day for his con­dem­na­tion of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary gen­er­als and his praise for Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, say­ing her Repub­li­can op­po­nent in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion had “failed” at prov­ing he can be com­man­der in chief.

“Ev­ery Repub­li­can hold­ing or seek­ing of­fice in this coun­try should be asked if they agree with Don­ald Trump about these state­ments,” Clin­ton said in a news con­fer­ence the morn­ing af­ter both can­di­dates ap­peared at a na­tional se­cu­rity fo­rum.

“What would Ron­ald Rea­gan say about a Repub­li­can nom­i­nee who at­tacks Amer­ica’s gen­er­als and praised Rus­sia’s pres­i­dent?” she said.

The Demo­cratic Party chipped in on that theme, re­leas­ing a video of news footage of var­i­ous Rea­gan chil­dren warn­ing that a Trump pres­i­dency would be a calamity. “My fa­ther would be ap­palled,” Michael Rea­gan, the for­mer con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio host, said of Trump in one of the clips.

Trump did not di­rectly re­spond to Clin­ton’s cri­tique Thurs­day. Speak­ing in Cleve­land, he tagged his Demo­cratic op­po­nent with a new nick­name — “trig­ger­happy Hil­lary” — and re­peated his in­cor­rect claim Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump cam­paigns in Cleve­land on Thurs­day. that he op­posed the war in Iraq “from the be­gin­ning.”

Still, Clin­ton in­di­cated later in the day that she does not want the fi­nal weeks be­foreElec­tion Day to be ex­clu­sively fo­cused on Trump, and she un­veiled plans for a series of pol­icy speeches aimed at pro­mot­ing a pos­i­tive mes­sage. That ef­fort started in Kansas City on Thurs­day night with an ad­dress on faith at the Na­tional Bap­tist Con­ven­tion.

Thurs­day’s events came a day af­ter a na­tional se­cu­rity fo­rum where Clin­ton was re­peat­edly chal­lenged on her con­tro­ver­sial email use at the State Depart­ment and her vote as a sen­a­tor for the 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq. She also fleshed out sev­eral na­tional se­cu­rity pri­or­i­ties if she is elected, in­clud­ing try­ing to take out the leader of the Is­lamic State and vow­ing to de­feat the ex­trem­ist group with­out putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

Trump did lit­tle to counter crit­i­cism that he lacks de­tailed pol­icy pro­pos­als, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the Is­lamic State.

He in­sisted that he has a pri­vate blue­print for de­feat­ing the ex­trem­ist group and that he would de­mand a plan from mil­i­tary lead­ers within 30 days of tak­ing of­fice. But he was also harshly crit­i­cal of the mil­i­tary, say­ing Amer­ica’s gen­er­als have been “re­duced to rub­ble” un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

The Repub­li­can also re­newed his praise for Putin and his dis­dain for Obama, ar­gu­ing that “it’s a very dif­fer­ent sys­tem and I don’t hap­pen to like the sys­tem, but cer­tainly, in that sys­tem, he’s been a leader far more than our pres­i­dent has been a leader.”

Speak­ing to re­porters Thurs­day morn­ing, Clin­ton sug­gested she agreed with Democrats who say she is be­ing held to a dif­fer­ent stan­dard in the White House race.

“I find it frus­trat­ing,” she said. “But it’s part of the land­scape we live in.”

With just two months un­til Elec­tion Day, na­tional se­cu­rity has emerged as a cen­ter­piece is­sue in the White House race.

Both can­di­dates be­lieve they have the up­per hand, with Clin­ton con­trast­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence with Trump’s un­pre­dictabil­ity and the Repub­li­can ar­gu­ing that Amer­i­cans wor­ried about their safety will be left with more of the same if they elect Obama’s for­mer sec­re­tary of state.

Clin­ton’s ar­gu­ment that Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks in New York on Thurs­day. Trump is ill-pre­pared to be com­man­der in chief has been bol­stered by a flood of Repub­li­can na­tional se­cu­rity ex­perts who are back­ing the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in­stead of their own party’s pick. Some of those Repub­li­cans will join Clin­ton on Fri­day for what she dubbed a “work­ing ses­sion” on the threat of ter­ror­ism.

The na­tional se­cu­rity de­bate came as Lib­er­tar­ian pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Gary John­son drew at­ten­tion for a for­eign pol­icy flub. He was asked Wed­nes­day on MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe” what he would do as pres­i­dent about Aleppo, the Syr­ian city at the cen­ter of the refugee cri­sis. John­son replied: “And what is Aleppo?”

Wed­nes­day’s f orum served as a pre­view of sorts for Clin­ton and Trump’s highly an­tic­i­pated de­bates.

Clin­ton re­it­er­ated that she had made mis­takes in re­ly­ing on a per­sonal email ac­count and pri­vate server as sec­re­tary of state and in vot­ing for the 2003 in­va­sion of Iraq as a sen­a­tor. But she de­fended her sup­port for U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion to help oust a dic­ta­tor in Libya, de­spite the chaotic af­ter­math.

Trump stood by a pre­vi­ous com­ment that ap­peared to blame mil­i­tary sex­ual as­saults on men and women serv­ing to­gether but added that he would not seek to re­move women from the mil­i­tary. And for the first time, he opened the door to grant­ing le­gal sta­tus to peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. il­le­gally who join the mil­i­tary.

The Repub­li­can also re­peated an in­cor­rect claim that he was op­posed to the war in Iraq be­fore the in­va­sion. That as­ser­tion is con­tra­dicted by an in­ter­view Trump did with Howard Stern in Septem­ber 2002 in which he was asked whether he sup­ported the in­va­sion. He replied: “Yeah, I guess so.”

On Thurs­day, Trump said he would have voted against the war if he had been serv­ing in Congress at the time. He ar­gued: “I op­posed go­ing in. And I op­posed the reck­less way Hil­lary Clin­ton took us out.”

EVAN VUCCI/AP

AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

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