Donald Trump’s speech at his Trump SoHo New York hotel on Wednesday was noticeably different from the freewheeling and divisive remarks he has typically delivered during his presidential campaign. One Trump ally who watched the address said it showed a “maturation” of Trump, which he credited to recent changes in his campaign team.
The presumptive nominee stayed on script throughout his nearly 40-minute address to an audience of supporters and reporters. At times, he even struck an expansive note, encouraging minorities, women and supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to back his bid. However, this kinder, gentler tone did not extend to the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Much of the speech was a caustic critique of Clinton’s platform and record as former
secretary of state, senator and first lady.
Trump framed the speech as his “thoughts about the stakes in this upcoming and very important election,” and began by describing his motivation for running.
“I’m running to give back to this country, which has been so very good to me,” Trump said, adding, “When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports, or the factories moving overseas … I know that these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton — only by me.”
Trump’s speech came a day after Clinton made remarks criticizing his business record. Clinton cited past Trump ventures that went bankrupt as evidence he could not improve the U.S. economy. Trump countered by painting Clinton as a consummate Washington insider who used her political position to enrich herself. He suggested this was why supporters of Sanders, who challenged Clinton from the left, should back his White House bid.
“We’ll never be able to fix the rigged system by counting on the same people who have rigged it in the first place,” Trump said. “The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money. That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement, so together we can fix the system for all Americans.”
Throughout his remarks, Trump drew extensively from the book “Clinton Cash,” which alleges that Clinton doled out favors at the State Department to countries and business people who donated to her family foundation or paid her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for speeches. At one point, Trump even dramatically read a passage from the book. He argued that the book was definitive proof that Clinton had acted improperly, and said that her dealings with Middle Eastern governments showed an inappropriate tolerance for regimes that “horribly abuse women and LGBT citizens.”
“Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft. She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund,” Trump said.
Trump also brought up Clinton’s handling of the 2012 terrorist attack against the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. He took several shots at Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business during her time as secretary of state. He argued that this made Clinton’s communications
vulnerable to foreign hackers who “probably now have a blackmail file” on her based on those messages.
In addition to focusing on Clinton’s past, Trump also argued against her policy platform. He said that Clinton’s support for the Iraq War and subsequent U.S. military intervention in Libya “unleashed ISIS throughout the world,” though Trump is also on record as having backed U.S. interventions in those conflicts.
He further attacked Clinton’s support for immigration reform, and argued that minorities would be hurt by it.
“The first victims of her radical policies will be poor African-American and Hispanic workers who need jobs,” Trump said.
His repeated appeals to minorities, women and LGBT voters were notable because throughout his campaign, critics have repeatedly framed his comments as racist and sexist.
PolitiFact conducted a live fact-check of Trump’s remarks. The site reported he made false statements about the US economy, the military, vetting of Muslim refugees, Benghazi, and his own past comments about Iraq and Libya. Clinton’s press secretary, Brian Fallon, responded to Trump’s speech with a tweet highlighting its inaccuracies.