She told the fired up audience that she shakes her head at what Republicans are saying about fighting ISIS and protecting the United States from another attack.
Clinton's comments come days after Republican front-runner Donald Trump suggested that he saw video of "thousands of people ... cheering"
in New Jersey as the World Trade Center towers fell during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Trump has also suggested compelling all Muslims in America to register for a national database
"I don't think it is smart for us to act like we are waging war on every Muslim in the world," Clinton said. "That is not smart."
"These terrorists are killers, they are thugs, they are criminals, they need to be treated like that, not elevated as thought they are representing a religion because even if though they claim to, they are not," she said, speaking at E.L. Pine Middle School in Reno.
Clinton, who spent the day in northern Nevada, revisited a speech she delivered earlier this month on defeating ISIS.
"We must end their murderous reign and prevent them from not only continuing to wreak havoc, terror and violence in the area where they are operating, but export it," she said.
The former secretary of state, however, definitively said she would not, as president, commit ground troops to fight the terrorist organization.
"The United States has to lead the effort but we will not be putting American combat troops in Syria and Iraq to accomplish the mission," Clinton said.
"This is a job we have to take on and we have to be smart about it and we have to be vigilant about it," Clinton said. "I will take a back seat to no one in protecting the United States of America."
While in northern Nevada, Hillary Clinton also met with Hillary Schieve, mayor of Reno; toured a substance abuse facility and met with Carson City Democratic Party Chairman Marty McGarry, who endorsed Clinton after the meeting.
As she has done in other early voting states, Clinton also met with reporters, editors and executives from many of the local news outlets in the area.
Clinton, who appeared energized by the crowd on Monday night, cast the 2016 election as one that will decide whether Republicans "get their way again."
"I want Democrats to vote for me, but I want sensible Republicans to vote for me, too," Clinton said. "The only way Republicans can win this election is if they can induce a state of amnesia in all of us."
The Republican National Committee responded to Clinton by knocking her leadership as secretary of state.
"Dogged by an FBI investigation and an unraveling foreign policy that's made the world less safe, Hillary Clinton has shown she can't be trusted in the White House," said RNC spokesman Michael Short in a statement.