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Clinton spoke Monday about the importance of the Supreme Court

She said a Donald Trump pick would roll back rights

Madison, Wisconsin CNN —  

Hillary Clinton on Monday blasted Republicans who regularly “bemoan” the rise of Donald Trump, their party’s presidential front-runner, while also allowing the GOP to “make the extreme normal” in politics and in Congress.

The former secretary of state, campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s primary on April 5, urged voters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to make the Supreme Court a voting issue, while showing that she is keeping close tabs on the Republican presidential race.

“Donald Trump hasn’t come out of nowhere. What the Republicans have sown with their extremist tactics, they are now reaping with Donald Trump’s candidacy,” Clinton said in a speech. “It wasn’t long after Sen. [Mitch] McConnell said his No. 1 goal was to prevent the President’s reelection that Donald Trump started his racist campaign to discredit the President’s citizenship.”

READ: Poll: support for Supreme Court nomination hearings remains strong

“Remember the birther movement?” asked Clinton, in reference to Trump’s 2011 campaign suggesting that President Barack Obama was not actually a U.S. citizen and wasn’t born in the United States.

“These things are connected,” Clinton said. “When you have leaders willing to bring the whole of government to a halt to make headlines, you may just give rise to candidates who promise to do even more radical and dangerous things. Because once you make the extreme normal, you open the door to even worse.”

Clinton questioned the kind of Supreme Court justices and attorneys general that the Trump would nominate.

“As you know, he believes Muslims should be banned from entering this country because of their faith. What would that mean for a nation founded on religious freedom?” Clinton asked the small audience. “He wants to round up 11 million immigrants and kick them out. What would that mean for a nation built by immigrants?”

Clinton’s campaign billed the speech as the former secretary of state’s platform to outline her views on the Supreme Court and paint a picture of who she would nominate to the Supreme Court, should she become president.

Clinton noted that the next president will likely nominate “multiple justices” and that should motivate progressives to make the Supreme Court a voting issue.

“In short, in a single term, the Supreme Court could demolish pillars of the progressive movement and as someone who has worked on every single one of these issue for decades, I see this as a make or break moment,” Clinton said.

“If we are serous about pushing for progressives causes, we need to focus on the court,” she added.

Clinton had kind words for Merrick Garland, the federal judge Obama tapped earlier this month to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but didn’t outright endorse him, telling a questioner that she would not “second guess the President’s choice.”

Clinton did, however, knock Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for pledging not to offer Garland a hearing. The former New York senator said Grassley should “step up and do his job.”

“He says we should wait for a new president because – and I quote – ‘The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice,’” Clinton said, citing Grassley’s own words. “Well, as one of the more than 65 million Americans who voted to re-elect Barack Obama, I’d say my voice is being ignored right now because of their obstructionism.”

Clinton will continue campaigning in Wisconsin on Monday, with a rally in Milwaukee, and on Tuesday with a series of events around the state.

Her campaign, though, is lowering expectations on the contest, noting that she lost the state to then Sen. Barack Obama by 18 points in 2008.