Clinton: Trump Insults Our Allies And Our Military

Aug 31, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a room full of thousands of men and women who have served in the nation's military, said her opponent wants to destroy the alliances "that generations of Americans in uniform have fought and died to create those bonds."

Speaking to the American Legion convention meeting in Cincinnati this week, she took direct aim at her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, who she said has made it clear he does not value America's allies abroad.

"Threatening to walk away from our alliances is not only wrong, but dangerous,'' Clinton said. "If I am elected president, our allies will always know that we have their backs and that they have ours."

"You don't build a coalition by insulting our friends or being a loose cannon,'' Clinton said.

She took a shot, as well, at Trump's plan to meet Wednesday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto – the president of a country that Trump has said he would literally wall off from the U.S., and make the Mexicans pay for it.

"It takes more to make up for a year of insults by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hour and flying home,'' Clinton said.

Trump, after meeting with the Mexican president, is expected to go to Arizona for a speech on immigration, where some say he may moderate some of his early views on deportation of illegal immigrants.

Trump is scheduled to speak to the American Legion Thursday morning.

Clinton received a standing ovation from most in the crowd on the first floor ballroom of the convention center before delivering her 36-minute address.

Not everyone was thrilled with Clinton's speech. 

"We like when they come up and say 'I'm for the veterans; I'm for the veterans; I'm for the veterans,''' said David Stevens of New Mexico. "We need to see if there is any meat with the potatoes when the shoe hits the ground." 

John Thomas of Indiana said he was "for her in the beginning and I'm for her right now. I think she would make a wonderful commander in chief." 

Carole Bova-Rice, a veteran from Oregon, said she is not a fan of either Trump or Clinton. 

"I'm kind of listening to see which is the lesser of two evils,'' Bova-Rice said. 

The American Legion annual convention drew about 9,000 members and their family members to Cincinnati this week. It wraps up Thursday, shortly after Trump's speech.

Clinton appeared to be emotionally moved as she spoke of being in the White House Situation Room as Secretary of State when Navy SEALS were hunting down and eventually killing Osama Bin Laden.

"Our SEALS took children and family members of terrorists to safety before destroying that helicopter,'' Clinton said. "That is the quality of our Navy SEALS."

The U.S., Clinton said, has "real threats and real enemies that we need to defeat. But my opponent is wrong when he says our nation is no longer great."

Clinton criticized what she considers Trump's bellicose rhetoric on the campaign trail about defeating the nation's enemies and suggesting that it would be a good thing if more countries had nuclear weapons.

"We must only send our troops into harm's way as a last resort, not as a first choice,'' Clinton said, to the applause of many in the audience.

"When my opponent calls our military a disaster, that's an insult," Clinton said.

After her speech, Clinton stayed behind a while on the stage, greeting leaders of the veterans' organization personally.

American Legion members from Indiana listen to Hillary Clinton's speech Wednesday.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

The Indianapolis-based veterans organization holds a convention every summer, but, in presidential election years, it is considered a "must go" event for both Democratic and Republican candidates. The American Legion does not endorse candidates, but they have a direct stake in the actions of the executive and legislative branches of government when it comes to veterans' issues. This is an opportunity for a presidential candidate to influence people who are leaders among veterans in all 50 states.

The political website "Real Clear Politics" has averaged the most seven recent national polls. The average shows that Clinton has a 5.3 percentage point advantage over Trump nationally – by no means insurmountable with about 10 weeks left before Election Day.

The vast majority of key battleground states – the ones that decide presidential elections and boost a candidate to the needed 270 electoral votes – have Clinton in the lead, including polls in Ohio, where the Democratic candidate has a lead of four to five percentage points in recent polls.

Three Republican members of Congress from Ohio – Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Mt. Lookout, Rep. Warren Davidson of Troy, and Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta – are all military veterans and the Trump campaign put them out front Wednesday to make the argument that Clinton is not qualified to be commander in chief of U.S. military forces.

"Promoting Hillary Clinton to commander in chief is unfathomable to me,'' Davidson, a former Army Ranger, said in a written statement. "We witnessed Hillary's foreign policy prowess during her time as Secretary of State and it was an absolute disaster."

Reporter Ann Thompson contributed to this story.