CINCINNATI — Touting “American exceptionalism” during an address to veterans here Wednesday, Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump’s impromptu visit to Mexico as “a photo-op” and argued he doesn’t understand foreign policy well enough to be commander-in-chief.
“Getting countries working together was my job every day as Secretary of State. It’s more than a photo-op. It takes consistency and reliability,” Clinton said to the American Legion conference. “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, and then flying home again. That is not how it works.”
Clinton, speaking as Trump traveled to Mexico City for his meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, did not use the Republican nominee’s name when calling him out for the surprise trip but was very clearly referring to him throughout the line of attack.
“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,” she said. “Actually it’s just like building personal relationships – people have got to know they can count on you – that you won’t say one thing one day and something totally different the next.”
Clinton’s speech focused on making the case for American exceptionalism, while noting that her opponent “has said very clearly” that he thinks the concept is “insulting to the rest of the world.
“The United States is an exceptional nation,” she argued. “We are also an indispensable nation. We are the indispensable nation.”
Clinton received a polite but not overwhelming reception from the group and acknowledged that many in the room might not vote for her in November. Trump is expected to address the same group tomorrow.
In her speech, the Democratic nominee also called out Trump out for his ties to Vladimir Putin and for engaging in a feud with a Gold Star family last month.
Referencing her father’s military experience several times throughout her remarks, Clinton said veterans' issues are particularly “personal” to her.
Earlier in the day, James Clad, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush endorsed Clinton. “In razor sharp contrast to her opponent, Secretary Clinton is ready, steady and prepared,” Clad wrote in a statement. Clad is not the first Republican national security advisor to endorse her.
He joins the ranks of other recent Clinton supporters who raised some eyebrows over the last few weeks, including Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage and Gen. John Allen.