- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday slammed Donald Trump’s impromptu trip to Mexico, saying the visit doesn’t make up for the year of insults the Republican businessman has hurled at Hispanic immigrants and other groups that have been the victims of his verbal attacks.

In a speech to the American Legion convention in Cincinnati, the Democratic presidential nominee — who used much of her address to promise to fix a troubled veterans’ health care system, provide adequate funding for the Pentagon and take other steps to care for veterans and strengthen the military — addressed Mr. Trump’s quick stop in Mexico head on. Mr. Trump will meet with the Mexican president just hours before he delivers a widely anticipated speech on immigration policy.

But both the trip and the speech, Mrs. Clinton said, are merely meant as distractions, designed to take the focus off the offensive and hurtful comments Mr. Trump has made throughout his 12 months in presidential politics.

“You don’t build a coalition by insulting our friends or acting like a loose cannon. You do it by putting in the slow, hard work of building relationships. Getting countries to work together was my job every day as your secretary of state,” she said. “People have to get to know they can count on you, that you won’t say something one day and something totally different the next. And it certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours … That’s not how it works.”

Mrs. Clinton also touted “American exceptionalism” in her 40-minute speech, saying the United States still plays an indispensable role in the world.

But Mr. Trump, she said, would endanger America’s status as a global force for good. Mrs. Clinton specifically cited Mr. Trump’s past support for waterboarding, his comfort with other nations acquiring nuclear weapons, and his declaration that the family members of terrorists could be targeted by American military forces.

“This election is about making things better. Now, make no mistake, I believe we do have better days ahead,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But things could also get worse. If more countries get nuclear weapons, if we abandon our allies, if our commander in chief orders our military to break the laws and commit torture or murder terrorist family members. That is why it is so critical we get this right … The last thing we need is a president who brings more name-calling and temper tantrums to Washington.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign quickly shot back at the speech and said the Republican ticket is the best hope for active-duty military and veterans.

“Those who have served and wear the uniform today deserve to have a commander in chief who is looking out for them rather than donors and corrupt bureaucrats,” said Matt Miller, director of Veterans for Trump. “Only Donald Trump and Mike Pence have a detailed plan to fundamentally improve both the VA and the way veterans are treated in this country. This ticket will always put our veterans and service members first, and they will put an end to the business as usual culture in Washington that leaves too many of our veterans behind.”

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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