Capitol Alert

Clinton in California rips Trump, Cruz on terrorism fight

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about global terrorism, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about global terrorism, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. Associated Press

Condemning the oratorical bombast and verbal “loose cannons” employed by her Republican rivals to combat global terrorism, Democrat Hillary Clinton cast herself Wednesday as the presidential candidate best equipped to handle the persistent global threats and defeat the Islamic State.

A day after the deadly terrorist attack in Brussels, Clinton in the speech at Stanford University built on her past addresses, in which the Democratic front-runner called for fighting back against the Islamic State by using Arab and Kurdish soldiers, intensifying air and unmanned strikes and dismantling foreign financing and social media accounts to stem the flow of recruitment.

“We need to rely on what actually works, not bluster that alienates our partners and doesn’t make us any safer,” said Clinton, contrasting her approach with those of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

I can tell you, insulting allies and partners is not a good way to start.

Hillary Clinton

“There’s been a lot of talk from both Republicans and Democrats about the importance of building coalitions with Muslim nations,” she added. “Having actually done this, I can tell you, insulting allies and partners is not a good way to start.”

Clinton was scheduled to hold fundraisers in Atherton and Hillsborough as the campaign looks west. Bernie Sanders, her opponent on the Democratic side, was planning a public event Wednesday in Los Angeles after drawing about 12,000 people to a Tuesday speech in San Diego. Sanders has advocated beating back the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, without committing U.S. ground troops as he criticizes Clinton for supporting the Iraq War.

In her speech Wednesday, Clinton said the United States must remain ahead of the curve technologically. She said she wants to enlist the “brightest minds here in Silicon Valley” to track the Islamic State’s social media posts and map jihadist networks.

“When other candidates talk about building walls around America,” she said of Trump’s plans, “I want to ask them: How high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out?”

Trump also has suggested that authorities in Belgium could have prevented the attack by torturing Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam, arrested before the bombings in Brussels. Earlier, Trump characterized America’s financial commitment to NATO as overgenerous and said he would seek changes to the arrangement.

Clinton flatly questioned the efficacy of torture, saying it puts U.S. troops and increasingly American civilians at greater risk, and pledged that her administration would not condone or practice torture anywhere in the world – “even when we’re up against opponents who don’t respect human life or human rights.”

Clinton, who later chatted with former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, defended NATO as one of America’s best investments. She contended that “turning our alliance into a protection racket,” a reference to Trump’s recent comments, would reverse decades of bipartisan American leadership and send a dangerous signal to friends and foes.

“Putin already hopes to divide Europe,” Clinton said. “If Mr. Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin. It will make America less safe and the world more dangerous.”

Just watched Hillary deliver a prepackaged speech on terror. She’s been in office fighting terror for 20 years – and look where we are!

Donald Trump

Trump responded within minutes.

“Just watched Hillary deliver a prepackaged speech on terror,” he wrote on Twitter. “She’s been in office fighting terror for 20 years – and look where we are!”

“I will be the best by far in fighting terror. I’m the only one that was right from the beginning, & now Lyin’ Ted & others are copying me.”

Clinton also turned attention to Cruz, who said Tuesday that he wants America to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods, after proposing to “carpet bomb” the region. Clinton said profiling Muslim enclaves was “wrong,” “counterproductive” and “dangerous,” and asserted it would be a serious mistake to carpet-bomb populated areas into oblivion.

“Proposing that doesn’t make you sound tough,” Clinton said. “It makes you sound like you’re in over your head. Slogans aren’t a strategy. Loose cannons tend to misfire. What America needs is strong, smart, steady leadership to wage and win this struggle.”

As she tries to woo Hispanic voters ahead of the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton has shifted — even reversed — her views on immigration.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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