Clinton held a last-minute news conference with reporters
She sought to capitalize on Trump's performance at a national security forum
Hillary Clinton unleashed a torrent of attacks against Donald Trump’s preparedness to be commander in chief and questioned his patriotism Thursday morning, hours after an NBC forum exposed her opponent to criticism on multiple fronts.
“It is a game to him. Everything is a game. It is like he is living in his own celebrity reality TV program,” Clinton said at a campaign rally in Charlotte Thursday afternoon. “You know what Donald, this is real reality, this is real people, these are real decisions that have to be made for our country.”
Clinton had begun the day on the offensive, by convening a press conference with reporters on the tarmac of Westchester County Airport before she and her traveling press corps were set to take off to North Carolina.
“Last night was yet another test and Donald Trump failed yet again. We saw more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief. He trash talked American generals,” she said.
At the NBC “Commander in Chief” forum Wednesday night, Clinton and Trump were separately questioned by anchor Matt Lauer on various national security and foreign policy topics.
Among Trump’s comments was his extensive praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin – Trump even went as far as to say he was a better leader than Barack Obama.
“He’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said. “If (Putin) says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him. I’ve already said he is really very much of a leader.”
Clinton characterized these comments as “unpatriotic” Thursday morning.
“Bizarrely once again, he praised Russia’s strongman, Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he preferred the Russian president to our American president. Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting, to the people of our country as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary,” Clinton said. “Because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him.”
Trump responded Thursday during an event in Cleveland.
“I just watched her on the tarmac,” he said. “She tried to make up for her horrible performance last night so she went on the tarmac and told more lies.”
During the forum, Trump also insisted on repeating a claim that has been previously debunked – that the businessman was “totally against the war in Iraq.”
There is no evidence to date that shows Trump came out against the Iraq War early on, and in fact, he initially said he supported the conflict.
Another moment that stirred up controversy was when Trump stood by a 2013 tweet in which he seemed to suggest military sexual assault is simply expected if women choose to serve.
“What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Trump tweeted.
Clinton, meanwhile, demonstrated her fluency on foreign policy at Wednesday night’s forum, but still found herself defending her record. She said her vote to authorize the Iraq War was a “mistake,” then vowed: “We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again and we are not putting ground troops into Syria.”
Clinton elaborated on those remarks at the Thursday press conference, saying putting a significant number of US troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria would “fulfill one of (ISIS’) dearest wishes which is to drag the United States back into a ground war in that region.”
And asked Thursday whether she believes she is being held to a different standard than Trump, Clinton – who on Wednesday asked that she be “judged on the totality of my record” – responded that it was a “fair question.”
“I have been somewhat heartened by the number of articles recently pointed out the quite disparate treatment of Trump and his campaign compared to ours,” Clinton said. “I don’t understand the reasons for it. I find it frustrating, but it is just part of the landscape that we live in and we just keep forging ahead.”
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.