By LAURA MECKLER – – – –
Democrat Hillary Clinton’s strategy for attacking Donald Trump came into sharp focus this week as, more than ever before, she turned her stump speech over to a full-throated denunciation of the presumptive Republican nominee.
She has spent the better part of this week in California, where she faces a tight primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders, who continues to challenge her for the presidential nomination. But with the nomination in sight if not in hand, Mrs. Clinton’s only comments about Mr. Sanders have been to praise him for their policy-focused contest and to call for unity. Mostly, though, she trained her attention on Mr. Trump.
Here are her main lines of attack:
1. He’s out for himself, not you: All week, the Clinton campaign worked to publicize comments Mr. Trump made ahead of the housing crisis in which he seemed to be rooting for the housing bubble to burst so that prices would fall and people like him could swoop in, buy up property and make money.
Mr. Trump defended the practice, saying this shows how “to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation.” That prompted another sharp rebuke.
“He said, profiting… off working people losing their homes would be, and I a quote, ‘good result,’” she said at a rally here on Wednesday. “A good result in Donald Trump’s world is he gets his, and you get hurt.”
On Thursday, in San Jose, she added, “He roots for himself, not for you… This is not the kind of person who should be president of the United States.”
2. He’s a risky commander in chief: In nearly every speech, she ticks through a series of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements including his casual acceptance of the spread of nuclear weapons, support for torture, willingness to pull back from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the nation.
“The best way to reassure ourselves and the rest of the world is to make sure Donald Trump, this loose cannon, never gets close to the White House,” she said Thursday in San Jose.
His response is that she’s “grossly incompetent” when it comes to national security.
3. He’s a divider, not a uniter: Mrs. Clinton now says the big idea powering her candidacy is “we’re better together,” and she casts Mr. Trump as being all about pulling people apart.
“He called immigrants rapists, murderers, criminals,” she said Thursday in San Jose. “And then he went on to insult women, to insult John McCain—a war hero, to make fun of a man with a disability, to denigrate Muslims. Honest to goodness there’s nobody left by the time he gets finished.”
4. Where are his taxes?: Her tax attack is two-fold. She says his tax plan would cut taxes on the wealthy, a standard critique of Republican policy, which often seeks to cut tax rates across the board. She also hits him for so far refusing to release his personal tax returns, something presidential candidates, including Mrs. Clinton and her husband, have routinely done for decades. Mr. Trump says he will release his taxes after an audit is concluded.
“We’re going to talk about this every day,” she said Thursday in San Jose. She then taunted him. “Either he’s paying no taxes or he’s paying very little, the only way to find out … is for him to release. Either he’s as wealthy as he claims, or maybe he’s not–the only way to find out is for him to release. Maybe he’s really charitable, or maybe he’s not. The only way to find out is for him to release.”
5. He’s anti-immigrant in a nation of immigrants: In California, home to many immigrants, and again at a union conference on Thursday in Las Vegas, she hit him for wanting to build a wall with Mexico and for promising to deport undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Mr. Trump has said illegal immigration is an urgent problem that must be stopped.
In Las Vegas, she told the story of a 10-year-old girl who told her earlier this year that she was living in fear that her parents would be deported. “She leaves for school every day terrified that her mom and her dad won’t be there when she gets home,” Mrs. Clinton said. “When Donald Trump talks about deporting 11 million immigrants, he’s talking about ripping apart families.”