Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday that Donald Trump’s business record disqualified him from overseeing the nation’s economy, arguing that his policies and temperament risked sending the U.S. into a recession and setting off a global panic.
The Democrat’s address to a battleground state audience here followed the same template as one she delivered on national security on the eve of the California primary, featuring several barbed attacks on Trump, her likely Republican general election opponent.
“Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy,” Clinton said.
And just as she did in her national security address in San Diego, Clinton repeatedly used Trump’s words and the few policy details he’s offered against him — confessing at one point even she had to ask her own staff: “He really said that?”
On taxes, for instance, Clinton cited an independent analysis that said Trump’s tax plan would increase the national debt by $30 trillion and was “not even in the universe of the realistic.”
“Alexander Hamilton would be rolling in his grave,” she said.
Trump’s campaign responded by impugning the source of the report Clinton cited: Moody’s analyst Mark Zandi, who Trump aides noted has ties to Democrats and the Obama administration, and personally contributed to Clinton’s campaign.
But Zandi also advised John McCain, a point Clinton made in her speech. And she noted that criticism of Trump’s economic policies comes from across the political spectrum, including 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who gave a speech excoriating Trump during the primary season, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the liberal firebrand who has served as something of an attack dog on Trump for Democrats.
Clinton pointed voters to the detailed economic plans she has laid out on her website, conceding they were “wonky.” She said Trump needs to be held to the same standard, for what he proposes and the consequences of what he says.
“The world hangs on every word our president says. The markets rise and fall on those statements. Even suggesting that the United States would default would cause a global panic,” she said. “We can’t let these loose, careless remarks get any credence in our electorate or around the world.”
Clinton’s speech appeared aimed at drawing the election conversation back to the economy after a period dominated by national security and the Orlando nightclub massacre.
She also was trying to undercut one of Trump’s main selling points: his purported business acumen.
Trump “has no real strategy for creating jobs, just a string of empty promises,” she said. “But then maybe we shouldn’t expect better from someone whose most famous words are, ‘You’re fired.’”
She saved some of her most stinging criticisms for Trump’s own finances and business practices.
She wondered whether Trump would not make public his tax returns because “maybe he isn’t as rich as he claims.” And while he’s written many books about his businesses, “they all seem to end at Chapter 11,” she said, in reference to various Trump bankruptcies.
“The same people he’s trying to get to vote for him are people he’s been exploiting for years,” she said, saying it was not “normal behavior.”
Trump’s campaign responded by targeting Clinton’s own economic record and the practices of her and her husband’s charitable foundations. It said that the U.S. lost a quarter of its manufacturing jobs “under Hillary-backed trade policies.” Clinton has said she opposed the only trade deals that came before her as a senator.
Notably, even with the drawn-out battle against Bernie Sanders behind her, Clinton hewed closely to progressive goals and rhetoric. She vowed in her speech to veto any efforts to undo Dodd-Frank financial reforms and reiterated her opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, while noting that Trump’s own businesses have engaged in the kind of outsourcing he now attacks.
On Wednesday, Clinton will follow up on the Trump-focused event with more on her own economic vision, which she said would include dealing with student debt and making sure “the super-rich contribute their fair share.”
For more 2016 campaign coverage, follow @mikememoli on Twitter.