Donald Trump unleashed a rhetorical fusillade at Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, calling her corrupt and a liar, one day after she said he was “reckless” and would be a disastrous president.
The back-to-back speeches signaled that the general election fight to succeed Barak Obama has begun in earnest with weeks still to go before either is formally nominated at their party conventions.
There was no nuance or misreading their tone or message. Their remarks lived up to expectations so far that the campaign between two heavyweight personalities scarred by celebrity will be vicious.
Trump’s speech in New York, for the moment, overshadowed controversies surrounding this week’s firing of the strategist who directed his victorious primary run and other criticisms of his campaign as unprepared to take on the Democrats and a growing threat to down-ballot candidates.
He fed conservatives a full menu of red meat criticism, broadsides about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s record and her character they regularly amplify on Capitol Hill and on the stump to underscore what polls say people don’t like about her.
He raised the challenges the country faces on infrastructure, foreign policy, leadership, the economy and jobs. Throughout, he kept coming back to Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton, as most people know, is a world class liar,” Trump said.
He said she “ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund” and made disastrous policy decisions. He blamed her for the rise of the Islamic State, and heaped on more about her paid speeches, and support for trade deals — a big grievance of manufacturing states losing jobs overseas.
Later on, he let this one fly: “Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”
He stuck primarily to scripted remarks rather than fulminating off-the-cuff, a signature trait of the billionaire businessman and reality TV host that has resonated with millions of people unhappy with establishment politics that Clinton has built her career on.
Trump said as president he would appoint judges who would uphold the right to bear arms. Gun rights is a leading conservative concern, especially with the Republican-led Congress under pressure to impose new gun control restrictions following last week’s massacre in Orlando.
Trump also pledged to roll back regulations that ship jobs overseas, lift restrictions on energy production and replace what he called the “job-killing Obamacare,” President Barack Obama’s health care initiative.
Clinton took Trump to task in a speech of her own in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, where she blasted his business record and said he was woefully unfit for office.
And while her campaign asserted that Trump’s speech was full of lies, Clinton followed up with an appearance of her own in North Carolina largely focused on her economic plan. She called for raising the minimum wage, fostering full national employment and ending the corporate practice of shipping jobs overseas.
On Trump, she mentioned that Trump had accused her of “playing the woman card” to woo female voters to which she replied, “deal me in.”
Finally, Clinton said the American people couldn’t expect much in the way of jobs from someone whose tagline is “you’re fired” — poking fun at his reality show, “The Apprentice.” “As president,” she said, “I’ll make sure you hear ‘you’re hired’.”