Tough Talk

Clinton Derides Trump, Cruz for ‘Bluster’ in National-Security Speech

The former secretary of state aims to establish her authority on the U.S. role in the international community.

Clinton Targets Trump, Cruz in National Security Speech

Hillary Clinton cast herself Wednesday as the only presidential candidate capable of leading the U.S. as it confronts the threat of terrorism, deriding Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for offering "bluster" rather than real solutions.

"Slogans aren’t a strategy; loose cannons tend to misfire," the Democratic front-runner said in an address at Stanford University that was scheduled and written in response to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels. "We need to rely on what actually works, not bluster that alienates our partners and doesn’t make us any safer." 

As she extends her lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic nomination race, Clinton is moving to position herself for the general-election campaign. The former secretary of state aimed to establish her authority on the U.S. role in the international community, and talked of her aspirations for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats on national security issues.

"If we can forge a bipartisan consensus, if we can bring our people to understand what this struggle means to us, if we can maintain our alliances and our partnerships, we will be successful," she said. "And that will benefit not only our country but the world and that, when you boil it down, is what American leadership has to be about."

But it was the attacks on Trump and Cruz, direct and indirect, that were at the core of her speech.

While Cruz has talked about "carpet bombing" enemies "into oblivion," she said, "proposing that doesn’t make you sound tough; it makes you sound like you're in over your head."

Trump said in an interview for Bloomberg's With All Due Respect program that he would weigh whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is still relevant.

Clinton said Trump's suggestions that the U.S. should pullback from its role as a leader in the international community and demand more payback from European countries and other  allies would be akin to "turning our alliances into a protection racket."

It also would play into the hands of U.S. adversaries, she said. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to divide Europe, and "if Mr. Trump gets his way it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin,'' she said.

Trump responded on Twitter, dismissing Clinton's remarks.

"Just watched Hillary deliver a prepackaged speech on terror. She’s been in office fighting terror for 20 years- and look where we are!'' the tweet said.

Reprising comments she made after last year's mass shooting in San Bernardino by a husband and wife inspired by Islamic State, Clinton said the government and the technology industry "need to stop seeing each other as adversaries" and start working together to find ways to balance civil liberties with security.

Clinton also challenged Cruz's call after the Brussels attack for U.S. police to "patrol and secure'' Muslim neighborhoods. "When Republican candidates like Ted Cruz call for treating American Muslims like criminals and for racially profiling predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, it’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, it’s dangerous," she said, in part because American Muslims are a key line of defense against radicalization in their communities.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE