Clinton, Trump take gloves off in fight for the White House
PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump traded insults at opposite ends of the country on Friday, taking their fight for the White House to rival battleground states and portraying starkly different visions of America.
One of the most divisive US campaigns in modern history is entering a new chapter with Republicans and Democrats having selected their nominees, leaving the candidates slogging it out before Election Day on November 8.
Clinton followed her historic acceptance speech on Thursday as the first woman presidential nominee for a major party with a rally in Philadelphia before embarking on a bus tour of Rust Belt states Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In Colorado, a key state out west, her Republican opponent promised “no more Mr Nice Guy,” trashing Clinton’s speech as “average,” calling her a liar and promising to end the migration of Syrian refugees.
“I’m starting to agree with you,” the 70-year-old told supporters chanting “lock her up, lock her up” in Colorado Springs. “I’m taking the gloves off,” he said. “Just remember this Trump is going to be no more Mr Nice Guy.”
Just over 100 days before the election, Americans are being asked to choose between two sharply polarised visions — and between two monumentally unpopular candidates.
“I can’t think of an election that is more important, certainly in my lifetime,” Clinton told supporters at the rally in Philadelphia.
The 68-year-old Democrat portrays Trump as a threat to democracy, seeking to woo moderate Republicans repelled by the former reality TV star and shore up a coalition with progressives on the left of her party.
“Donald Trump painted a picture, a negative, dark, divisive picture of a country in decline,” she said.
“I’m not telling you that everything is peachy keen — I’m telling you we’ve made progress, but we have work to do.”
She promises to focus on parts of the country that have been “left out and left behind” — constituencies where declining living standards, fears about safety and lost jobs have fueled support for Trump.
Trump, who has never previously held office, portrays himself as the law and order candidate — the outsider who will shake up an out-of-touch Washington, restore jobs, cut the deficit and end illegal immigration.
In Colorado, he goaded Clinton on her failure to hold a news conference since December and accused her of lying to the FBI over its investigation of her email scandal as secretary of state.
“We’re going to stop the Syrian migrants from coming into the United States,” he said referring to the killing of a French priest, whose attackers proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group.
But the crowd stopped cheering when he rehashed past controversies of him mocking a disabled reporter — denying he had — and implied that a TV reporter had grilled him because she was menstruating.
Trump’s campaign, which has trailed in fundraising behind Clinton, released a new ad on Friday saying that in Clinton’s America “things get worse” with taxes going up, terrorism spreading and voters losing jobs, homes and hopes. “Change that makes America great again,” the video promised.
Trump also posted a social media clip mocking Clinton’s husband and former president Bill Clinton for appearing to doze off during her speech.
Clinton needs to win over disgruntled working class voters, who have formed the backbone of Trump’s base. She trashes the real estate mogul for making so many of his products overseas and for alienating women, Hispanics and Muslims. On her bus tour, she is being accompanied by her husband, her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and his wife Anne.
The so-called Rust Belt states are vital parts of almost any strategy to garner the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency. “We’re going to be drawing that contrast between Hillary Clinton’s plans for our country and Donald Trump’s empty promises,” Kaine said Friday.
Experts predict that “negative partisanship” — voting against a candidate — will play a major role in deciding who makes it to the White House.
Clinton’s unpopularity is second only to Trump’s, with a disapproval rating of 55 percent compared to his 57 percent, according to recent averages.
Ratings from Nielsen showed that 2.2 million more people had tuned into watch Trump’s acceptance speech last week than Clinton’s on Thursday.
When it comes to voter intentions, Trump and Clinton are in a statistical dead heat, according to the most recent poll average from RealClearPolitics.
Meanwhile, responding to accusations by the father of an American Muslim soldier killed in Iraq that Donald Trump has “sacrificed nothing”, the billionaire said he had made many sacrifices, such as employing thousands of people.
Tonight, we are honoured to stand here as the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.
Like many immigrants, we came to this country emptyhanded. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.
We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.
Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”
If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He [Trump] disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.
Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the US constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.
Khizr Khan — whose son Humayun was killed at the age of 28 — accused the Republican presidential nominee of vilifying US Muslims, in a steely rebuke that electrified the Democratic party convention on Thursday.
“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khan said, directly addressing Trump. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump, a property mogul and former reality TV star, brushed off Khan’s words in an interview on Saturday with ABC News, stating that he thinks he has made ‘a lot of sacrifices.’ “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot,” the 70-year-old said.
Humayun Khan was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq as he approached a car packed with explosives. Before enlisting in the army, he had planned to study law at university. — AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump