- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Donald Trump moved Wednesday to make the race for the White House a referendum on Hillary Clinton, saying his Democratic rival has padded her pockets at the expense of Americans and the security of the nation, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee looked to get his campaign back on track after a trying stretch.

Seeking to shift the discussion from his paltry fundraising, campaign shake-up and shaky poll numbers, Mr. Trump launched a searing assault on Mrs. Clinton, calling her a “world-class liar,” accusing her of destabilizing the Middle East and charging that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have profited off the misery of Americans.

“She gets rich making you poor,” Mr. Trump said.

He later charged that “Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

The speech marked Mr. Trump’s first address since he fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski this week and replaced him with Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican political operative who had served as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman since May.

Republican leaders are hoping the shake-up signals that Mr. Trump is in the midst of the sort of general election pivot that they have been calling for since he chased the last of his rivals from the nominating contests more than a month ago.

Meanwhile, Republicans have distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s criticism of a federal judge overseeing a case involving Trump University, as well as his push for a proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

More alarm bells went off this week after campaign finance reports showed that Mr. Trump had raised $1.3 million through the end of May, compared with more than $40 million for Mrs. Clinton.

Republican strategists, however, said the Trump camp made a course correction Wednesday by focusing on Mrs. Clinton’s record.

“The sign on Manafort’s desk should read: ‘It’s Hillary, stupid.’ Her unfavorables are that high,” said Republican strategist Kevin Sheridan. “Today wasn’t a bad start, but it comes after six wasted weeks. Stop the conspiracy theories and racial demagoguery, and get serious.”

Mrs. Clinton’s camp dismissed Mr. Trump’s comments, saying it “was full of lies” and raised “nutty conspiracy theories” and “debunked claims.”

The presumptive Democratic nominee has been ramping up her attacks against Mr. Trump and said Wednesday that his economic plan relies on “reckless ideas that will run up our debt and cause another economic crash.”

Mr. Trump countered in his speech that he has “always had a talent for building businesses and, importantly, creating jobs.”

“That is a talent our country desperately needs,” the billionaire real estate mogul said.

Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state has put the nation in danger and that she has “perfected the politics of personal profit and theft.”

He said she has supported trade deals — including the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement effected by her husband — that have benefited big businesses and foreign countries and hurt the working class.

Her “radical” immigration plan, which includes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, will be more of the same, he said.

“Hillary’s Wall Street immigration agenda will keep immigrant communities poor and unemployed Americans out of work,” Mr. Trump said. “She can’t claim to care about African-American and Hispanic workers when she wants to bring in millions of new low-wage workers to compete against them.”

On foreign policy, he blamed Mrs. Clinton for the emergence of the Islamic State and the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who died during the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

“In short, Hillary Clinton’s tryout for the presidency has produced one deadly foreign policy disaster after another,” he said, alluding to her tenure as secretary of state.

Republican analysts said Mr. Trump is smart to try to make the race about his rival.

“The big theory of the campaign is if this is a referendum on her, he is going to win, and that is a good theory,” said Republican strategist Mike McKenna. “I believe that is an accurate statement of the world.

“If you can drive home that she is part of the corruption and that the corruption is part of what makes people poor in this country, she is going to be in a lot of trouble, because she is already the defender of the status quo,” he said.

Mr. Trump echoed that sentiment in his speech.

“Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her,’” Mr. Trump said. “You know what my response to that is? I’m with you, the American people.

“She thinks it’s all about her,” he said. “I know it’s all about you — I know it’s all about making America great again for all Americans.”

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