SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Hillary Clinton upped the ante Friday night in what has become a sustained back-and-forth with Donald Trump, suggesting that the presumptive Republican nominee wants to be a dictator.
“We are trying to elect a president,” Clinton said during a long riff on Trump, “not a dictator.”
Clinton made the comment at an event here after she blasted Trump for suggesting this week that Gonzalo Curiel, a federal district judge in the Southern District of California who is presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University, has a “conflict of interest” with the businessman because of Curiel’s Mexican heritage.
Clinton said Trump is attacking the judge so people don’t “look down here at all the scum that came out of Trump University,” a for-profit school Trump put his name on that is now being accused of framing consumers.
“Just about every immigrant that you can imagine came here for a reason, including Donald Trump’s ancestors,” Clinton said. “At some point you have to ask yourself, is this just nothing but a political stunt?”
Clinton’s comments also came a day after Trump said Clinton should be “jailed” for her use of private email to conduct official State Department affairs.
“I will say this, Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail,” Trump told supporters in San Jose. “Folks, honestly, she’s guilty as hell.”
And Clinton’s dictator line builds on how she implied earlier in the week that Trump has a fascination with dictators.
“And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America,” Clinton said in San Diego on Thursday, adding that she would leave it to “psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.”
Although Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remains in the presidential race, Trump and Clinton have almost entirely turned their focus to each other, sparring on a daily basis with volleys of rhetorical fire.
The Clinton campaign’s strategy is to keep the pressure on Trump, hoping that by not holding back they will get under his “thin skin” and force him to make errors when he responds.
Clinton suggested on Thursday that Trump could start a war as president if a foreign leader “got under his very thin skin.”
Trump responded in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday.
“First of all, I don’t have thin skin,” he said. “I have very strong, very thick skin.”
Clinton aides, many of whom were watching these exchanges play out from Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, were happy to see Trump respond to these charges.
“Happy to let Trump ‘dominate the news cycle’ until 11/8/16,” Jesse Lehrich, a Clinton spokesman, tweeted on Friday, referring to the day when Americans nationwide cast their ballots for president.