WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Hillary Clinton sought to undercut Donald Trump’s claim to working class voters Thursday, portraying her Republican rival as untrustworthy on economic issues, and pushing policies that would only benefit the super-wealthy — himself included.
The Democratic presidential nominee, who frequently boasts about her numerous policy plans, didn’t offer any new ideas to improve the country’s economy in her afternoon address. Instead, she contrasted a more optimistic view of the country’s economy with what she dubbed as “outlandish Trumpian ideas” that have been rejected by both parties.
“Based on what we know from the Trump campaign, he wants America to work for him and his friends, at the expense of everyone else,” she said, at a manufacturing company.
Appearing in the county known for the so-called Reagan Democrats — working-class Democrats who voted Republican in the 1980s — Clinton tried to seize the opportunity to win back some of the blue collar voters who have supported her rival, making the case that she offers a steadier roadmap for economic growth and prosperity.
“I can provide serious, steady leadership that can find common ground and build on it based on hard but respectful bargaining,” she said. “I just don’t think insults and bullying is how we’re going to get things done.”
She also reiterated her strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, leaving herself little room for backtracking should she win the White House if it is taken up by the lame-duck Congress later this year.
“I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as President,” she said, while also noting that the U.S. should not cut itself off from the rest of the world.
Clinton once called the TPP the “gold standard” of trade deals when she served as Obama’s secretary of state but announced her opposition to the deal last year, saying it did not meet her standard for creating jobs, raising wages and protecting national security.
Eric Hernandez, 45, a union crane operator from Davison, Mich., said he had been on the fence about Clinton, but the speech impressed him.
“The down to earth talk she used today I really liked,” she said. “If she implemented all the things she said, I’d be ecstatic.”
Clinton is also planning to release her 2015 tax returns in the coming days, as she seeks to keep the pressure on Trump, who has not provided his. Trump has said he won’t release them until an IRS audit is complete.
A source close to Clinton said she would soon release the return, supplementing the decades of returns she and her husband have already made public. Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine and his wife will also release the last 10 years of their returns. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans in advance.
Her appearance follows Trump’s own speech on the economy, which he also delivered in Michigan on Monday. But his remarks were quickly eclipsed by the latest in a series of controversial statements which Trump has spent much of past two weeks trying to clarify.
Just hours before her address, Trump unleashed another round of attacks on President Barack Obama, calling him the “founder” of the Islamic State militant group — and Clinton, its co-founder.
Trump said this week he wants to cut taxes for businesses and workers, and go with a three-bracket income tax system that’s close to what House Republicans have recommended. With few exceptions, Trump has provided more of a philosophical basis for an economic plan than specifics, although he did call for greater child care deductions for families.
At an appearance in Miami Beach, Florida, hours before Clinton’s speech, Trump said his rival “wants to tax and regulate our economy to death.”
“If you were a foreign power looking to weaken America, you couldn’t ask for anything better than Hillary Clinton as your president,” he said, addressing a group of home builders.
Both candidates chose tightly contested Michigan — specifically, the Detroit area — to make their updated economic pitches. The former manufacturing powerhouse has been hard hit by the decline of the automobile industry and the real estate market.
Trump has struggled to keep the focus on his economic proposal week after fresh controversy with his comments about the Second Amendment. At a rally Tuesday, Trump falsely said his Democratic rival wanted to revoke the right to gun ownership. He then said there was no way people would be able to stop a President Clinton from stacking the Supreme Court with anti-gun justices, before adding, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is — I don’t know.”
Democrats said such comments were further evidence that Trump was undisciplined and unprepared for the presidency. Trump insisted he was never advocating violence against Clinton.
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report from Abingdon, Virginia. Lerer reported from Washington.
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