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Story highlights

On Thursday Hillary Clinton compared some Republican presidential candidates to terrorists for their views on women

By Friday, at least four 2016 GOP hopefuls had sharply criticized Clinton for her remarks

Cleveland CNN —  

Republican presidential candidates are striking back Friday after Hillary Clinton compared some of them who hold conservative views on abortion and women’s reproductive rights to “terrorist groups.”

During a riff Thursday where Clinton name checked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Clinton said Republicans are “dead wrong for 21st century America.”

“Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States,” Clinton said at a speech in Cleveland. “Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back.”

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, no stranger to blunt remarks, disparaged Clinton’s comment Friday morning.

“Her last statement on terrorists was a disgusting statement, by the way,” Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Fellow Republican candidate Carly Fiorina slammed the comments as “outrageous,” “over the line” and “typical” of Clinton and Democrats in an interview on “Fox News” on Friday.

“What it tells us is that Hillary Clinton has no qualms about continuing to try and wage this supposed ‘war on women’ card as she runs for president,” Fiorina said. “We ought to expect this.”

Clinton regularly hits Republicans on women’s rights but Thursday’s line was a departure from her usual talking points.

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“I would like these Republican candidates to look the mom in the eye who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get a screening for cancer or the teenager who didn’t get pregnant because she has access to contraception,” Clinton said. “Or anyone who has ever been protected by an HIV test.”

Clinton told the audience of around 2,000, according to Case Western Reserve University, that she takes “it a little personal when they (Republicans) go after women.”

“This is happening all over the country, even here in Ohio,” she said. “Programs and services women use to take care of themselves are being cut down.”

Bush said in a Tweet that the remarks were a sign of Clinton’s misplaced priorities.

“.@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong,” Bush tweeted.

Republicans were quick to pounce on Clinton’s comments and called for her to apologize.

“For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign,” said Allison Moore, press secretary for the Republican National Committee. “She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric.”

“Hillary Clinton just said a significant portion of Americans are the same as ‘terrorist groups’ simply because they disagree with her,” added Amelia Chassé, press secretary for America Rising PAC, an anti-Clinton opposition research group. “That is outrageous, even for a desperate politician slipping in the polls. It’s the clearest sign yet that Sec. Clinton will say or do anything to win.”

A national poll released Thursday showed Clinton leading the Democratic field with 45% support, as well as topping several GOP candidates in head-to-head matchups.

CNN’s Tom Lobianco and Tal Kopan contributed to this report.