Hillary Clinton Says Donald Trump Doesn’t Measure Up on Foreign Policy

TAMPA, Fla. — Leaning heavily on her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton assailed Donald J. Trump’s national security credentials on Tuesday, portraying him as a bungling businessman unequipped to serve as commander in chief.

“He says he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS. The secret is, he has no plan,” Mrs. Clinton said in a blistering speech here dripping with ridicule directed at her Republican rival.

Mrs. Clinton repeatedly referred to her experiences as the nation’s top diplomat — and enlisted her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, to do the same in his first national security address — to draw a contrast with Mr. Trump.
U.S. & Politics By REUTERS 00:33
Trump Bashes U.S. Foreign Policy
Trump Bashes U.S. Foreign Policy

At a town hall-style meeting in Virginia Beach, Donald J. Trump criticized Hillary Clinton and President Obama about their foreign policy. By REUTERS on Publish Date September 6, 2016. Photo by Eric Thayer for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »



Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on her experience in global stagecraft comes a week after Mr. Trump tried to bolster his foreign policy credentials with a trip to Mexico. Mrs. Clinton called the trip “an embarrassing international incident.”

“He got into a Twitter war with the president of Mexico,” she added, alluding to Enrique Peña Nieto. “He is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president of the United States.”

Mr. Trump, in turn, addressed Mrs. Clinton’s own qualifications at an event in Virginia Beach. Asked if questions about Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state made her unfit to serve as commander in chief, Mr. Trump replied with a quip.

“It’s such a long answer to that question,” he said to laughter. “Could go on for days.”

Mr. Trump will also use a speech on Wednesday in Philadelphia to call for the end of the military sequester as a way to increase defense spending, according to a senior adviser who spoke anonymously in order to discuss campaign strategy. The speech is also intended to contrast Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy vision — which Mr. Trump described on Tuesday night as “military adventurism” — with what he says is a more cautious approach.
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Wednesday night, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump will answer questions in a televised forum on national security hosted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

In a preview of what she might say during the forum, Mrs. Clinton recalled on Tuesday the tense 2011 decision in the White House Situation Room to send a team of Navy SEALs to raid a compound in Pakistan believed to be harboring Osama bin Laden.

“Would it be a missile strike? Would it be a bombing? Would it be an attack?” she said, quieting the crowd. “I was one of the ones who said I thought it was worth the risk,” she said as a woman in the audience shouted, “You go, girl!”

The renewed emphasis on national security coincided with news that 88 retired generals and military officials had released an open letter endorsing Mr. Trump, saying his presidency would bring a “long overdue course correction in our national security posture.”
Mrs. Clinton spoke to reporters on her campaign plane en route to Tampa, Fla. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Asked at a news conference about the endorsements, Mrs. Clinton pretended to brush them off. “I think 88 flag officers?” she said. “I think we’re up to 89, but who’s counting?”

She added that Mr. Trump’s military endorsements fell far short of the 300 to 500 endorsements the past two Republican nominees, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Mitt Romney, had received.

“I’m doing better than any Democrat” in racking up military endorsements, she said. “He’s doing worse than any Republican.”

With nine weeks until the election, a recent CNN/ORC poll shows Mr. Trump has gained ground against Mrs. Clinton so that they are essentially tied nationally among likely voters. The poll found that Mr. Trump held a 51 percent to 45 percent edge over Mrs. Clinton on the question of whom voters trust to handle terrorism, though she holds a solid lead on the issue of whom voters trust on foreign policy.
Mrs. Clinton, in Tampa on Tuesday, called Donald J. Trump’s trip to Mexico “an embarrassing international incident.” Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

The focus on national security came as President Obama’s trip to Asia hit several diplomatic snags, intensifying Republican criticism of the White House’s approach to foreign policy.

Mrs. Clinton defended Mr. Obama’s cool response after a heated dispute over the stairs he would use to depart from Air Force One when he arrived in Hangzhou, China, for the Group of 20 Summit meeting on Saturday.

“Trump said if there had been the kerfuffle about the stairs and the press, he would have just stayed on the plane and gone home,” she said, seeking to portray Mr. Trump as a petulant child, while citing her own dealings with China during her time at the State Department.

“You don’t get in a snit and stay on your plane and go home,” she said. “You get off the plane and you go to work.”
Latest Election Polls 2016

Mr. Obama also canceled a planned meeting in Laos with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines after Mr. Duterte used a slur to describe Mr. Obama. Mr. Duterte later apologized.

Regarding the Philippines, Mrs. Clinton said, “President Obama made exactly the right choice.”

On Monday, she accused Russian agencies of interfering in the United States election through cyberattacks that would help Mr. Trump, whose potential presidency, she said, would destabilize the United States and delight foreign adversaries.

Mrs. Clinton made Mr. Trump seem uncaring about the United States military, pointing to his criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son was killed in Iraq, and she also faulted how his private enterprises had treated veterans.

“Trump companies have fired veterans because they have to take time off to fulfill their military commitments,” she said.
First Draft Newsletter

Subscribe for updates on the 2016 presidential race, the White House and Congress, delivered to your inbox Monday – Friday.

But as Mrs. Clinton’s tried to stoke fears in voters about Mr. Trump’s preparedness to serve, it was Mr. Kaine who delivered the argument in personal terms.

Standing in front of 18 American flags at a former U.S.O. facility in Wilmington, N.C., Mr. Kaine talked about his son Nat, 26, a Marine deployed in Europe.

“I trust Hillary Clinton to make these decisions with full knowledge that the life of my son and his friends may be riding on the outcome,” Mr. Kaine said