Hillary Clinton declared herself the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Thursday and, looking to the fall election, said that her likely Republican rival, Donald Trump, was not qualified to be president.
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo whether Trump was qualified to hold the office they both seek, Clinton declared emphatically, “No.”
She called the crash of an EgyptAir flight early Thursday an act of terrorism and went on to portray Trump as dangerously out of step with what a commander in chief would need to do to combat such attacks.
She cited his proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States, his comments about diminishing U.S. involvement in NATO and his remarks that he would negotiate directly with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, as evidence of how “unmoored” Trump is on foreign policy.
— CNN (@CNN) May 19, 2016
This month, when MSNBC asked a similar question, Clinton said that Trump had “given no indication that he understood the gravity of the responsibilities that go with being commander in chief.” But she stopped short of emphatically declaring that he was unqualified.
She did not mince words Thursday, telling Cuomo, “I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States.”
The statements come as Clinton encounters a lingering threat for the Democratic nomination from Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose supporters have become increasingly antagonistic toward her candidacy. Despite recent primary wins by Sanders, his path to the party’s nomination appears mathematically impossible, a fact that Clinton sought to make abundantly clear.
“I will be the nominee of our party, Chris,” she told Cuomo. “There is no way I won’t be.”
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 19, 2016
On Thursday afternoon, Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, said in a statement that his candidate’s recent victories in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon showed that voters there “respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton.” He added: “We expect voters in the remaining eight contests also will disagree,” and said that some polls showing Sanders faring better than Clinton against Trump made it “clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.”
Throughout the interview, she appeared ready to put the primary process behind her and move on to Trump. Asked if she would consider naming Sanders her vice-presidential nominee, in an effort to unify the party and bring in his liberal and young supporters, Clinton demurred.
“I think the thing that brings us together is Donald Trump,” she said. “That’s what brings us together.”
She declined to respond to Trump’s attacks on her husband, Bill Clinton, including an interview with Fox News on Wednesday night in which Trump brought up a decades-old rape allegation against the former president.
“I think people can judge his campaign for what it is,” Hillary Clinton said. “I’m going to run my campaign.”
Asked if she had the urge to defend her family’s honor against the onslaught of attacks that will only get louder in the coming months, Clinton said: “No, not at all. I know that is exactly what he is fishing for, and I’m not going to be responding.”
The interview took place in Park Ridge, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where Clinton spent her childhood. Cuomo asked what advice Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, would give her daughter in dealing with the likely battle that awaits her against an opponent unlike any she has confronted.
“I think it would be the same advice that my mother always gave me,” Clinton said. “Which is everybody gets knocked down and knocked around in life. The real test is whether you get up and keep going.”