Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Donald Trump would send the U.S. economy back into recession, warning his “reckless” approach would hurt workers still trying to recover from the 2008 economic turbulence.
Clinton’s address in Ohio, one of the most important battleground states, sought to define Trump as little more than a con man, whose ignorance and ego would tank the global economy, bankrupt Americans and risk the country’s future.
“Every day we see how reckless and careless Trump is. He’s proud of it,” the Democratic presidential candidate said. “Well, that’s his choice. Except when he’s asking to be our president. Then it’s our choice.”
The speech was similar to one earlier this month in San Diego in which Clinton tried to undercut the Republican candidate’s foreign policy credentials. This time, at an alternative high school in Columbus, she questioned whether Trump has the temperament to guide the economy and repeatedly pointed to his business record as evidence of how he would treat small businesses and working families.
“Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy,” Clinton said. Her speech included stinging one-liners, including a takedown of Trump’s best-selling books.
“He’s written a lot of books about business. But they all seem to end at Chapter 11,” she said, in an allusion to the U.S. bankruptcy code.
Trump responded on Twitter as Clinton delivered her address, writing in one tweet: “How can Hillary run the economy when she can’t even send emails without putting entire nation at risk?” He appeared to be referring to Clinton blending her personal and official emails on a homebrew server in her house, while she was secretary of state.
The businessman later appeared to embrace one of Clinton’s attack lines, writing: ‘I am “the king of debt.’ That has been great for me as a businessman, but is bad for the country. I made a fortune off of debt, will fix U.S.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Clinton was “the last person qualified” to talk about improving the economy, pointing to “eight years of disastrous Obama policies.”
Clinton used Trump’s own statements to undercut his economic credentials, citing remarks he made that that U.S. could sell off assets, default on its debt and that wages are too high. She also repeated a comment he made that pregnant employees are an “inconvenience.”
Clinton said financial markets often “rise and fall” on comments by presidential candidates. Suggesting the United States could default on its debt could cause a “global panic,” she added.
She also seized on a report Monday by Moody’s Analytics which found Trump’s plans would lead to a “lengthy recession,” costing nearly 3.5 million American jobs. The analysis by Moody’s Mark Zandi, a Clinton donor and former economic adviser to Republican Sen. John McCain‘s 2008 campaign, predicted Trump’s approach would swell the federal debt as the U.S. economy becomes more isolated by less trade and cross-border immigration.
Trump has pointed to trade as a major difference with Clinton, saying last week that her support of past trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, has cost the country “millions of jobs.”
He also has assailed her promotion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as Obama’s secretary of state as a sell-out of U.S. workers. Clinton announced her opposition to the TPP last October, saying it failed to meet her test of providing good jobs, raising wages and protecting national security.
Brushing it aside, Clinton said there was a difference between “getting tough on trade” and “recklessly starting trade wars.” She noted that many of Trump’s products are made in countries like China, Mexico, Turkey, India and Slovenia.
Bolstered by more than $40 million in television advertising, Clinton and her Democratic allies are trying to use this period before next month’s Democratic National Convention to disqualify Trump among moderate voters on the economy and prevent him from successfully wooing working-class voters in battleground states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Fundraising reports filed Monday showed Clinton with a big advantage, starting the month with $42 million in the bank compared with Trump’s $1.3 million.
Clinton was expected to talk about “ambitious new goals” for the economy Wednesday in Raleigh, North Carolina.