Hillary Clinton went nuclear on Donald Trump Thursday afternoon in San Diego, calling him “dangerously incoherent” and unsuitable to be commander-in-chief in one of the most powerful speeches of her campaign.
“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different, they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies,” she said in a speech that was equal parts foreign policy manifesto and roast of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
“He is not just unprepared, he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility,” she warned. “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”
Clinton’s speech was her clearest, most forceful and most robust take-down of Trump to date. She effectively stitched together her views of America’s strengths internally and as a world power while mocking her likely Republican opponent for his scattered, limited foreign policy positions.
“There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf course deal but it doesn’t work like that in world affairs,” she said at one point after rattling off a series of Trump’s most off-the-wall comments on foreign policy.
Unlike some previous foreign policy speeches, Clinton managed to avoid getting bogged down in policy specifics, keeping her fire trained on Trump. She hit him hard for calling for more countries to have nuclear weapons, mocking his fights with allies from the United Kingdom prime minister to Pope Francis, and slamming his wildly inconsistent views on how to handle ISIS (from nuking Syria to letting Russia handle the bombing to handing it over as a safe zone to the terrorist group).
“Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the situation room making life or death decisions on behalf of the United States,” she said. “Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?”
Clinton laid out her foreign policy doctrine, walking through her support of a muscular foreign policy built on forging stronger links with America’s allies while maintaining a big presence on the world stage.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great. Donald Trump has America all wrong,” she said, framing the election as “a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged in the world and a strong confident America that leads.”
The speech could be a shot in the arm for Clinton, who’s looking to lock down the Democratic nomination with wins in next week’s primaries in California and elsewhere and rally Bernie Sanders’ supporters and other unenthusiastic Democrats for the general election battle against Trump. Democrats have watched increasingly nervously as Trump has caught up to Clinton in the polls in recent weeks while she’s struggled to knock Sanders out of the race and move past her ongoing email issues.
Donald Trump talks to supporters in New York on Monday.
Her choice of San Diego, a major military town in the biggest primary state left on the calendar, shows how high a priority that state’s results. Recent California polls have been neck-and-neck, and Clinton badly needs a Golden State win to help put an exclamation point on her primary victory.
Clinton knocked Trump’s pattern of praising dictators while attacking U.S. allies, saying while she’ll “leave it to a psychiatrist to explain his affection for tyrants” and warning “If Donald Trump gets his way they will be celebrating in the Kremlin.”
The likely Democratic nominee also took a page from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) playbook, predicting Trump would respond with a Twitter fit before asking what other abilities he had.
“We all know the tools that Donald Trump brings to the table: Mocking, composing nasty tweets. I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now. But those tools won’t do the trick,” she said.
Trump responded as predicted.
“Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the teleprompter! She doesn’t even look presidential!” he fired back on Twitter.
Besides ridiculing Trump’s lack of foreign policy expertise, Clinton warned of how dangerous it would be to make him commander-in-chief.
“Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry but America’s entire arsenal,” she continued.
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