Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump is “inciting mob violence” that recalls lynch mobs Monday evening at an MSNBC townhall, where she also took tough questions on foreign policy and trade.
Clinton told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who moderated the event in Springfield, Illinois, that she holds Trump responsible for the violence seen in recent days at his rallies, and believes his rhetoric is not only wrong and offensive, but also “dangerous.” “He's been building this incitement,” she said.
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“When you are inciting mob violence, which is what Trump is doing,” Clinton said, “there’s a lot of memories that people have. They’re in the DNA. People remember mob violence that lead to lynching, people remember mob violence that lead to people being shot, being grabbed, being mistreated. And it’s something that has a deep, almost psychological resonance to people who have ever been in any position of feeling somewhat fearful, somewhat worried.”
Clinton also took tough questions from Matthews on her history of supporting military intervention abroad, including the Iraq War.
The former senator and secretary of state said she believed Iraq had nuclear weapons in the lead up to the war, noting that the Clinton administration believed that Iraq obfuscated its plans from international weapons inspectors during her husband's final years in office.
But Clinton said Bush misled the Congress in saying the vote for military authorization in Iraq would not be used to actually go to war. “I believed George W. Bush when he said we're going to let the inspectors finish the job. 'This vote will give me the leverage,' he claimed, 'to make sure that happens,' ” she said.
On regime change in general, Clinton insisted she is not a hawk. “No, I’m a smart power advocate,” she said. And while she agreed that toppling dictators or foreign government is not advisable in “the vast majority of cases,” there are exceptions, like in Rwanda and the hypothetical of assassinating Hitler before he took power in Germany. “You cannot paint with a broad brush,” she said.
Matthews also pressed her on why she changed her position on the Trans Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal with a dozen Asian countries she came out against last year. Sanders had opposed it from the beginning. MSNBC conducted a separate town hall with Sanders, moderated by Chuck Todd, which aired immediately before Clinton’s.
Free trade is an emotional issue in states that have lost manufacturing jobs like Ohio and Illinois, both of which hold primaries Tuesday, but Clinton said that while she and Sanders agree on TPP specifically, they have different views on trade in general.
“I know you have to trade with the rest of the world,” she said. "He just is reflexively against anything that has any international implications.”
She spoke again about her limitations as a politician, acknowledging she is not as natural an orator as her husband or President Obama. "I'm not bringing people to fever pitches of incredible admiration,” she said. “But whenever I have a job, I do it well.”