Last updated: July 23, 2016 2:55 am
Clinton dismisses Trump’s dark vision of US
Barney Jopson and Geoff Dyer in Washington
Hillary Clinton panned Donald Trump for presenting a “dark and divisive vision” of the future as sought to draw a stark contrast between her candidacy and his after this week’s Republican convention.
In her first extensive comments since Mr Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, Mrs Clinton strived to offer an upbeat message and highlight her rival’s shortage of concrete plans before her own convention begins on Monday.
Decrying Mr Trump’s “fear and anger and resentment”, the Democrat accused him of “talking trash” about America. “He doesn’t speak for anyone who thinks our country should be standing together.”
The former secretary of state was the subject ofvitriolic attacks from Republicans all week in Cleveland, as animosity towards her proved to be one of the GOP’s most unifying forces. She is expected to announce her choice of running mate in the next 24 hours, with Virginia senator Tim Kaine widely reported to be the frontrunner.
Speaking at a campaign event in Tampa, Florida, on Friday, she joked that the attention heaped on her was “perversely flattering”. Referring to Senator Ted Cruz’s primetime refusal to endorse Mr Trump, she said: “I never thought I’d say these words but Ted Cruz was right . . . In this election, do the right thing and vote your conscience.”
Her argument that Mr Trump was out of sync with an American tradition of energetic optimism chimed with comments earlier in the day from Barack Obama.
The president said Mr Trump’s vision did not match the reality of what was happening in society as he met Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto at the White House.
The US president accused Mr Trump, whose long speech on Thursday evening warned about rising crime and threats from illegal immigration, of trying to stir “fears that don’t have a basis in fact”.
More than any sitting president in recent decades Mr Obama is expected to play a major role in the election campaign, and believes he can effectively challenge Mr Trump’s brand of populism.
Speaking at the White House alongside Mr Peña Nieto on Friday, Mr Obama said “this idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse, this vision of violence and chaos everywhere, doesn’t really jive with the experience of most people”.
America was much less violent than it was 20 or 30 years ago, he said, and the rate of both legal and illegal immigration had been sharply reduced. “We have far fewer undocumented workers crossing the border today than we did in the 80s or the 90s, or when George Bush was president,” he said. “That’s a fact.”
With Mr Trump pledging to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr Obama defended open economic ties with Mexico, saying that 1m jobs in the US were currently supported by trade with its neighbour.
“We’re not just strategic and economic partners, we’re also neighbours and we’re friends and we’re family, including millions of Americans that are connected to Mexico by ties of culture and of language,” he said.
He added that globalisation was being driven partly by new technology and changes in transportation. “We’re not going to be able to build a wall around that,” he said.
Mr Peña Nieto has in the past compared Mr Trump to Hitler and Mussolini but adopted a diplomatic tone at the White House on Friday. “Let me express my absolute will of collaboration to whomever is selected in November as the leader of this great nation,” he said.
During his acceptance speech on Thursday in Cleveland, Mr Trump promised: “We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”