PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton stepped up her attacks Monday on Donald Trump, seven days before their first presidential debate, denouncing him as a “candidate with a history of racial discrimination in his businesses, who retweets white supremacists, who led the ‘birther’ movement . . . and is still lying about it today.”
Clinton, the Democratic nominee, called the Republican nominee a “loose cannon” who shouldn’t be in charge of military decisions, who can’t be bothered to learn important policy details and who is trying to turn the election into a “circus.”
“American is better than Donald Trump,” Clinton told an intimate audience inside a hall at Temple University. “This election isn’t a reality TV show.”
Clinton, the former secretary of state and New York senator, delivered the remarks in a city that not only hosted her nominating convention but whose turnout in November could prove crucial to her hopes.
The Democrat said the public wants solutions, not outbursts.
“Optimism, not resentment. Answers, not anger. Ideas, not insults. Bridges, not walls,” Clinton told supporters in a city that might prove key to winning this crucial swing state.
Pennsylvania is a state that Clinton and Trump are counting on to help them win enough electoral votes to become the next president. According to Real Clear Politics, the poll averages show Clinton ahead by an average of 6.6 percentage points, but the gap has narrowed over the last month.
Toward that, Clinton is concentrating heavily on the Keystone State’s two largest cities, Pittsburgh and especially Philadelphia — and the latter’s surrounding suburbs. Health-care unions and others are aggressively organizing get-out-the-vote efforts for Clinton in the metro area, said Robin Kolodny, a Temple University political scientist, knowing turnout will be crucial.
“It’s the pivotal reason she is here today,” Kolodny said. “What’s going on in the city is a huge mobilization.”
“That may be a place where presidents are made or not,” Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff said of the Philadelphia metro area. He said Clinton needs heavy turnout there as well as Pittsburgh as a way to offset Trump’s advantage in the rural areas and “coal country.”
“I would say Pennsylvania and North Carolina are two big states she is focusing on the most,” Miringoff said. “It would be really hard for Trump to win if she can win both.”
Conversely, while Pennsylvania isn’t “do or die” for Clinton, a loss here could signal trouble for her in other swing states, he added.
Even in her remarks, Clinton urged supporters to work hard in the final seven weeks of the campaign, saying: “This is going to be close.”
Clinton told Temple students she shared the idea of Sen. Bernie Sanders, her Democratic rival for the nomination, of “tuition-free college for working families and debt-free for everyone.” She said, unlike Trump, she knows the interest rate on student loans “right down to the last decimal.”
That detail, she said, “should be a big deal to your president.”
But as she began with Trump, she ended with him, too. She called him a “Republican nominee for president that incites hatred and violence that we’ve never seen.” She blamed Trump for stoking the “birther movement” – a reference to the false claim that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. She said that while Trump acknowledged Obama’s citizenship last week, the candidate falsely accused her of starting the movement.