American Legion Confab
Jabbing at Trump, Clinton Extols U.S. Role as Leader`
By THOMAS KAPLAN
The New York Times
CINCINNATI--Hillary Clinton offered a vigorous case on Wednesday for America’s place as a singular and vital leader in the world, outlining an approach to global affairs that differs sharply from the “America First” posture espoused by Donald J. Trump.
“If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this: The United States is an exceptional nation,” Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, said in an address to the American Legion’s national convention here.
In her speech Mrs. Clinton championed the notion of American exceptionalism, a term traditionally embraced by Republicans. And, as she warned about the dangers of electing Mr. Trump, she offered herself as a well-prepared alternative--for Republicans as much as Democrats.
While the campaign of Mr. Trump has been marked by a hard-line nationalist approach, Mrs. Clinton sketched a view of America as a model for other nations and a force for good in the world, saying that such a role is a “serious responsibility.”
“Part of what makes America an exceptional nation is that we are also an indispensable nation,” Mrs. Clinton said. “In fact, we are the indispensable nation. People all over the world look to us and follow our lead.”
Mr. Trump has said that he dislikes the term “American exceptionalism,” and has described it as insulting to other nations. On Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton took issue with his objection, saying that the Republican nominee “misses something important.”
“When we say America is exceptional, it doesn’t mean that people from other places don’t feel deep national pride, just like we do,” she said. “It means that we recognize America’s unique and unparalleled ability to be a force for peace and progress, a champion for freedom and opportunity.”
And while Mr. Trump has questioned the United States’ involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and has suggested he might not automatically come to the defense of NATO allies if they are attacked, Mrs. Clinton stressed America’s role in bringing countries together, saying the nation’s roster of allies “is part of what makes us exceptional.”
Pointedly, she took a swipe at Mr. Trump over his last-minute trip to Mexico as she spoke of the hard work necessary to build coalitions, recalling her efforts as secretary of state to get countries to work together.
“It certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again,” she said. “That is not how it works.”
Mr. Trump will have the opportunity to respond to Mrs. Clinton’s portrayal of him before the American Legion: He is scheduled to address the group on Thursday.
Mrs. Clinton has been an infrequent presence on the campaign trail of late, spending much of her time raising money behind closed doors in fashionable locales like the Hamptons. One of her events there on Tuesday took place at the home of the musician Jimmy Buffett, who performed for those in attendance, as did Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney.
At the same time, her campaign has been forced to contend with unwanted headlines on a number of fronts, including whether Clinton Foundation donors received special treatment at the state department, and the most recent sexting scandal involving former Representative Anthony D. Weiner of New York, the husband of Huma Abedin, an aide close to Mrs. Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton’s speech on Wednesday offered the opportunity to drive home an argument that is central to her critique of Mr. Trump--and central to her case for why voters in battleground states like Ohio should not be tempted to support him.
She and her team have tried to paint Mr. Trump as unfit to be commander in chief, to the point that a President Trump would pose a danger to the country.
“This election shouldn’t be about ideology,” she said. “It’s not just about differences over policy. It truly is about who has the experience and the temperament to serve as president and commander in chief.
To that end, Mrs. Clinton brought up a letter signed by 50 Republican national security officials that warned Mr. Trump “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
In contrast, she touted the backing of “people on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the debates that have defined our foreign policy for the last 30 years.”
And, as she presented herself as steady and ready to be commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton warned of potential consequences if the country chooses a leader who takes a different approach.
Among the potential perils, by her estimation: More countries with nuclear weapons, and that the military would be ordered to torture people or kill terrorists’ family members.
“This election is about how to make things better,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Now, make no mistake, I believe we do have better days ahead. But things could also get worse.”
llary Clinton spoke last week to the American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati.. She discussed America’s role as a world leader.
Members at the American Legion’s convention last week heard Hilary Clinton.
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