MANCHESTER N.H. — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, speaking to thousands of supporters at an outdoor campaign rally here, accused Republican Donald Trump of conceding defeat in the ongoing effort to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist group, a move she said made him “unqualified” to lead the nation’s armed forces.
On Sunday evening, Trump took to Twitter to cast the military operation, which is being waged on the ground by Iraqi military forces with the aid of U.S. military airstrikes, as a “total disaster.”
“The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster,” Trump tweeted. “We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN.”
Clinton, the former secretary of state, speaking to about 4,000 supporters at an outdoor rally on the campus of St. Anselm College, said Trump’s online missive was “dangerous.”
“He is basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started,” Clinton said of the so-far weeklong battle. “He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief.”
According to the Associated Press, in the week since launching the mission to reclaim Mosul, Iraqi forces have recaptured the heavily Christian city of Bartella that lies about 9 miles east of Mosul, but have also faced heavy Islamic State resistance. The terrorist group has lined the approach to Mosul with roadside bombs and recently torched a sulfur plant and oil wells to produce a smoke-filled sky that has hampered aerial missions.
Clinton was joined at the rally by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who took aim at Trump’s record with women — slamming him for bragging in a 2005 video that he groped women without their consent, and chastising Trump for referring to Clinton, New York’s former U.S. senator, as a “nasty woman” during last week’s final presidential debate
“He thinks because he has a mouth full of Tic-Tacs he can force himself upon any woman within groping distance,” Warren said. “I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump, women have had it with guys like you . . . and nasty women have really had it with guys like you. Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart, and nasty women vote.”
The trip marked Clinton’s third appearance in New Hampshire since clinching the Democratic nomination this summer. She stumped in the state twice before with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Clinton leads Trump in New Hampshire by an average of 8 points in the latest state polls, according to the poll tracking website Real Clear Politics, which last month had Clinton ahead by an average of 5 points.
The polling edge allowed Clinton to divert some of the event’s focus from her own race, to down-ballot races. Clinton and Warren both spent time advocating on behalf of the state’s Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is currently locked in a tight U.S. Senate race with first-term Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Clinton’s campaign aides have said in recent days that the campaign is expanding its efforts to help congressional candidates in competitive races with the goal of securing a Democratic-controlled Senate.
Despite Clinton’s comfortable polling edge, many of her supporters in the crowd said they were focused on delivering a large turnout for Clinton on Election Day.
New Hampshire state Rep. Sue Gottling (D-Sunape) said it was “foolish” for anyone to sit out the election by assuming that a polling edge guaranteed either candidate a victory.
“I personally will make it a point to tell everyone I know to go out and vote,” said Gottling, who wore a pink shirt that read “Another Feminist for Hillary Clinton.”
Pamela Hibbs, 73, a retired electrical engineer who drove three hours from Nobleboro, Maine, to attend the rally, said she recently started volunteering for Clinton’s campaign, calling prospective voters and urging them to participate in the election.
“You can’t sit on your hands, you can’t take anything for granted,” she said.