Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump’s campaign represents “an ugly, dangerous” message that poses a threat to U.S. democracy, in a speech at the Old State House in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday, billed as a major address on healing race relations.
Clinton repeatedly cast Trump as contemptuous and ignorant of the U.S Constitution, hostile to women and minorities and so unstable that he might even use the powers of the presidency — including the IRS and the military — to pursue his own personal vendettas.
“Given what we’ve seen and heard, does anyone think he’d be restrained?” said Clinton.
“This man is the nominee of the party of Lincoln. We are watching it become the party of Trump,” said Clinton. “And that’s not just a huge loss of our democracy, it is a threat to it, because Donald Trump’s campaign adds up to an ugly, dangerous message to America.”
The venue for the speech, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous “House Divided” speech on slavery in 1858, was chosen for its historic significance. It is also where President Obama launched his presidential campaign in 2007 and where he introduced Joe Biden as his vice presidential choice in 2008.
The speech is an extension of an argument Clinton has delivered in previous speeches as she has pivoted to the general election, casting Trump as temperamentally unfit both to serve as commander in chief and to manage the nation’s largest economy. It is an attempt to draw contrasts with Trump in the aftermath of shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas that have ignited racial tensions.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee devoted the first portion of her remarks to highlighting the need for racial healing, calling for criminal justice reforms and more support for the nation’s police force. She also called for a greater effort to revitalize economically depressed areas where people have been “stripped” of their security and dignity, citing “a sense of dislocation and even pessimism about whether America holds anything for them or cares about them at all.”
Yet Clinton’s most pointed remarks were directed at Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. In one notable moment, she also seemed to refer to her own past comments that have been criticized by some African Americans, including when she called some black youth “super predators” during a debate over a crime bill. Clinton said she “cannot claim my words and actions haven’t fueled the partisanship” at times and “I recognize I have to do better too.”