Although Hillary Clinton did talk briefly about how she would attempt to rein in the Islamic State if elected president in her speech at the University of South Florida in Tampa on Tuesday, her hyped address on national security issues also contained plenty of red meat regarding the foreign policy statements made by her opponent in this year’s presidential election, Donald Trump.
“His whole campaign has been one long insult to all those who have worn the uniform to protect our most cherished American values,” Clinton said, such as Trump’s comment that he knows more about ISIS “than the generals.”
“When it comes to ISIS, he has been all over the map,” the former secretary of state said about his comments on dealing with the world’s most feared terrorist group. “You would have to literally map it out. He has talked about letting Syria become a free zone for ISIS. Look at the map, Donald!” she said in a scolding tone.
“He’s talking about sending in American ground troops. Not on my watch,” Clinton chided. “That is not what we are going to do.”
And Clinton blasted Trump’s “loose” talk about the possibility of using nuclear weapons.”I mean, it’s so boggling when I hear these things, I say they can’t be true. And then they replay it for me again. He says he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS. But the secret is, he has no plan,” as the crowd roared.
After all his talk, Clinton surmised, “the only thing that’s clear is that he has no clue about what he’s talking about.”
Clinton spoke for 45 minutes before an estimated crowd of 1,500 people at the USF student recreation center, a gymnasium located right next door to the USF Sun Dome, where Trump spoke before more than 10,000 people back in February.
She laid out her own plan for dealing with the Islamic State, which didn’t sound too dissimilar to what President Obama has been attempting to do for the past year. She would 1) “take out their stronghold in Iraq and Syria”; 2) Dismantle their global terror infrastructure, “on the ground and online,” and 3) Bolster U.S. defenses, including “an intelligence surge” to protect the U.S. and our allies.
“We will do whatever is necessary, for as long as it takes, to bring ISIS to justice, and end their reign of terror once and for all,” she declared.
The speech came with exactly nine weeks to go before Election Day, with a a new national poll showing the presidential race is essentially tied, a reality some Clinton supporters had hard time fathoming on Tuesday.
“I just don’t think people read enough and become informed to know what’s going on,” said Harold Rossiter, a lifelong Democrat who lives in Tampa. “We’re avid readers, we study the issues, study the person, and make an informed decision rather than superficially, and I think a lot of people don’t do that.”
One Clinton supporter, 24-year-old Tampa resident Aaron Hill, was in denial about the reliability of any poll that shows the race to be so close.
“I just don’t believe that many people are into Trump,” Hill said. “I just think he’s way too wacko to believe that he’s that far ahead. I just don’t believe that.”
“I think she’s had to lower herself to Trump’s feel, and that’s why the polls are close,” added Toni Saperstein, a Peoria, Illinois native who now resides in New Port Richey. “People want to be entertained. He’s entertaining. That’s why he had a television show.”
Saperstein says she believes Hillary Clinton is blamed for some of the things that Bill Clinton did during his presidency. “I think that the bottom line is, Americans are afraid of women. We’re the only industrialized country that that has never had a female leader.”
A Quinnipiac poll released in early August found that 60 percent of likely independent voters in Florida viewed Clinton unfavorably, compared to 33 percent who support her. A Monmouth University poll released in mid-August found a similar gap of 51-28 percent.
Tampa resident Diane Briscoe says she doesn’t understand the relentless emphasis on the negative aspects of Clinton’s character in the media. “I think if we had the answer to that, Hillary would be leading in the polls by a very large margin,” Briscoe said. “I don’t know. It is a female thing; and if you’re female, and do things in a forthright manner, and you are a take-charge personality, people see that as a negative? That may just be part of a lingering bias in our country, I don’t know.”
But not everyone inside the student recreation center at USF was bewildered at Clinton’s low poll numbers when it comes to character. Lakeland resident John Lia says he’s undecided about who he supports for president. “I’d like to see a return to truthfulness and accountability,” he said. “I’m just afraid that neither one of these candidates can offer this,” he said.
Clinton’s speech was panned by Jason Miller, senior communications advisor to the Trump campaign, who said, “Hillary Clinton’s remarks today in Tampa are exactly what you would expect to hear from a candidate who took off the month of August and woke up in September losing the election.”
There will be more national security talk between the two candidates Wednesday, when both will answer questions on military affairs, veterans’ issues and foreign policy in front of an audience mainly made up of members of the military in a one-hour discussion to be aired by NBC and MSNBC at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign will continue to focus on the Interstate 4 corridor in the remaining nine weeks of the campaign, beginning Wednesday, when Bill Clinton speaks in Orlando.