Clinton Tries To Define Trump Before He Basks In GOP Convention Spotlight

Jul 15, 2016
Originally published on July 15, 2016 1:51 pm
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This morning, we're following the tragic events in Nice, France. At least 84 people were killed last night after a man drove a truck through crowds of people out celebrating Bastille Day. We'll have more on this throughout the program. But let's turn now to this country. In the wake of that attack, Donald Trump postponed naming a running mate, a name he planned to reveal today in advance of the opening of the Republican National Convention. For her part, Hillary Clinton is going after Trump this week, big time. Here's NPR's Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan is stronger together, and it seems to have a few meanings. When standing next to Bernie Sanders, getting his endorsement, it's about party unity. When talking about recent events, it's about the need to heal racial divides. But it's also about drawing a contrast with Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: Donald Trump is running the most divisive campaign of our lifetime. His message is that you should be afraid - afraid of people whose ethnicity is different, whose religious faith is different or who were born in a different country. That's, my friends, no innuendo or dog whistle any more. It's all out in the open now.

KEITH: That was Clinton yesterday at the League of United Latin American Citizens conference in Washington, D.C. Clinton never goes so far as to call Trump racist. But she walks right up to that line. At a rally later in the day, she again called Trump divisive. And she mused about the GOP Convention next week in Cleveland.

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CLINTON: I have no idea what's going to happen in Cleveland.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: It's going to be - it is going to be entertaining, I'm sure, if you're into bigotry, bluster and bullying - if you're into drawing lines between Americans.

KEITH: This is one of Clinton's cases against Trump - that what he stands for isn't what America stands for, and what he's advocating is dangerous. Clinton's campaign is out with a new ad this week designed to reinforce this message.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD, "ROLE MODELS")

DONALD TRUMP: I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks. And you can tell them to go [expletive] themselves.

KEITH: This audio runs under video of young children watching TV. The ad's title is "Role Models."

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD, "ROLE MODELS")

TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're bringing drugs.

KEITH: In recent weeks, Clinton's campaign has spent millions of dollars running television ads, mostly about her history working for children and families. Those are bio ads designed to reintroduce a candidate with a trustworthy rating in the basement to a public that thinks it knows her well.

But this new ad is all about locking in a negative view of Trump. Clinton also spoke in Springfield, Ill., earlier this week in the historic state house where Abraham Lincoln delivered his speech declaring that a house divided against itself cannot stand. She pointed out that Trump will soon be the nominee of the party of Lincoln.

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CLINTON: We are watching it become the party of Trump. And that's not just a huge loss for our democracy, it is a threat to it.

KEITH: This big effort to define Trump comes as Clinton has seen her lead diminished in recent polls. Thanks to Clinton's email controversy, the Trump campaign hasn't had to spend a penny on TV ads to promote his message that Clinton is crooked Hillary. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.