Clinton: 'Party of Lincoln' becoming 'Party of Trump'

Story highlights

  • Clinton said Trump is dividing the United States and is a far cry from Lincoln
  • Clinton also looked inward, saying her words and actions have also at times fueled partisanship

Springfield, Illinois (CNN)Hillary Clinton, standing inside the same chamber that helped shape Abraham Lincoln into the father of the Republican Party, argued Wednesday that Donald Trump was perverting what his party once stood for.

Clinton, flanked by American flags and standing beneath a portrait of George Washington, said Trump is dividing the United States and is a far cry from Lincoln, who argued against slavery in the same chamber in 1858, famously telling the assembled lawmakers that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
"This man is the nominee of the Party of Lincoln," Clinton said. "We're watching it become the Party of Trump. And that's not just a huge loss for our democracy -- it's a threat to it."
    But Clinton also looked inward during her remarks, telling assembled guests that political divisions have caused fear and anxiety to fester and that she realizes she "cannot stand here and claim that my words and actions haven't sometimes fueled the partisanship that often stands in the way of our progress."
    Clinton's argument throughout the speech -- delivered with the help of a teleprompter -- was that Trump is not only fueling divisions in the country but was doing so to power his campaign.
    "His campaign is as divisive as any we've seen in our lifetimes," Clinton said. "It's built on stoking mistrust and pitting American against American. It's there in everything he says and everything he promises to do as president."
    Clinton went on to argue that this was evident in the way Trump talks about Muslims and his call for a ban allowing them to enter the U.S. to his remarks on undocumented immigrants, whom he has pledged to deport.
    "I just wish Donald Trump would listen to other people once in a while. He might learn something," Clinton said. "But he's made it clear -- that's not his thing. He only listens to himself."
    Clinton's speech comes days after police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, as well as an attack on police in Dallas that left five officers dead, galvanized the nation.
    Clinton aides hoped that Wednesday's remarks in Springfield would build off a speech Clinton gave last week to the largely African-American audience at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where Clinton said it was important to acknowledge "implicit bias" that still exists today in the United States.
    Clinton echoed that sentiment Wednesday but called for Americans to listen and empathize with one another.
    "Let's think better of each other and hold together in the face of our challenges -- not turn on each other or tear each other down," Clinton said, urging her supporters to not only put themselves in the shoes of officers who could be killed in the line of duty and African-Americans and Latinos who worry about dying at the hands of officers, but also of Trump supporters.
    "And yes, let's put ourselves in the shoes of Donald Trump's supporters," Clinton said. "We may disagree on the causes or the solutions to the challenges we face -- but I believe like anyone else, they're just trying to figure out their place in a fast-changing America."
    She added, "They want to know how to make a good living and how to give their kids better lives and opportunities. That is why we've got to reclaim the promise of America for all our people -- no matter who they vote for."
    And while Clinton criticized Trump over his rhetoric, she too hit the presumptive Republican nominee for banishing some press outlets from his events and for flubbing an answer on the Constitution last week in a speech to House Republicans.
    Clinton closed her remarks but arguing the country could live up to the values Lincoln espoused throughout his career, telling supporters that if the country comes together, it could be "the last, best hope of earth."