Trump and Clinton Race to Define Each Other in Harshest Terms

The presumptive presidential nominees signal the bitter battle they'll be waging for the next five months.

Trump and Clinton Lay Into Each Other in Dueling Speeches

Donald Trump doesn't want to make the country great again—he wants to "take America backward." Hillary Clinton? She'd pave the way for abortions up until the moment of birth, abolish the right to own guns and "raise your taxes big league."

On the first day of public campaigning as the presumptive presidential nominees of their respective parties, both Trump and Clinton signalled the bitter battle they'll be waging for the next five months as each sought to paint the other as too extreme and out-of-touch to tackle America's most pressing problems.

“Do we want to put our health, our lives, our futures in Donald Trump’s hands?” Clinton asked on Friday. “These questions are not hypothetical.”

"She's as crooked as they come," Trump shot back from his own stage.

The competing speeches in Washington, D.C., which missed overlapping by mere minutes, were similar in tone and aggression, but drastically different in almost every other way.

Clinton, who on Tuesday made it mathematically impossible for Bernie Sanders to overtake her for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a liberal group that backs abortion rights and advocates for more access to birth control.

Trump, who hasn't had a Republican challenger for five weeks, delivered his speech to the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative group that has called North Carolina's fight over bathrooms for transgender people "the biggest battle for our culture and our values we’ve seen in decades."

Most recent polls show Clinton with a slight lead over Trump among voters, often within the margin of error. The polls also show that Americans think poorly of both candidates, feelings that the harsh attacks can only intensify. While 53 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Clinton in a June 2-5 poll from The Economist, the same survey showed 61 percent of Americans also had an unfavorable view of Trump.

For the second time in as many speeches this week, Trump used a teleprompter to deliver his remarks. He was halting and uneven, but largely stuck to the script—a request that Republican political veterans such as Senator Majority Mitch McConnell have made in hopes the former reality TV show host would limit his unforced errors, such as questioning the qualifications of a federal judge based on his Mexican ancestry.

The thrice-married New Yorker called marriage and family the "building blocks of happiness and success." He promised to "uphold the sanctity and dignity of life," and declared that the happiest people he knows all "have that great religious feel." 

"It's more than the money, folks," said the billionaire real estate and branding expert who has promised to make America rich.

But Trump's most intense remarks were saved for Clinton, whom Trump invited to his third wedding. The former secretary of state is a backer of "uncontrolled immigration" who will appoint "radical judges," "destroy the rule of law" and ignore the will of the people.

"Her education policies, her economic policies, her immigration policies and her trade policies will plunge our poor African-American and Hispanic communities into turmoil and even worse despair," Trump said. 

Trump also promised to temporarily suspend America's refugee program and divert the funds "for a new jobs program for our inner cities." 

One of the cornerstones of Trump's campaign has been his call for halting Muslim immigration to the United States until the country can "can figure out what the hell is going on." A request for additional details was not immediately returned by Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks.

Minutes earlier, Clinton charged that Trump “has no idea what’s best for women,” cutting into the Republican’s public record on women’s issues as she spoke to a key progressive group.

Clinton, in her first public appearance since Tuesday’s victory speech after becoming the first woman to clinch major party's presidential nomination, cast her speech as a call to arms for the nation's female voters. She called for investments in longer-lasting contraceptives, supported using federal funds to pay for safe abortions for low-income women and called for an end to the gender pay gap.

"We are not going to let Donald Trump, or anyone else, turn back the clock," Clinton said.

Drawing on a rhetorical tool she used effectively a week ago during her foreign-policy speech in San Diego, Clinton sought to use Trump’s own words against him.

Clinton reminded her crowd that Trump said in March that "there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions. She mentioned that Trump reversed his position, and she used his reversal to question his commitment and understanding of women's issues.

"Anyone who would so casually agree to the idea of punishing women like it was nothing to him—the most obvious thing in the world—that’s someone who doesn’t hold women in high regard," Clinton said. "Because if he did, he would trust women to make the right decisions.

Clinton also assailed Trump's comments on paid family leave and pay equity for women.

"He says if women want equal pay, they should just, and this is a quote, 'do as good a job as men,'" Clinton said, quipping: "As if we weren’t already."

With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs in Washington.

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