Clinton hits Trump with 'prejudice' broadside

Hillary Clinton gives a speech criticising Donald Trump in Reno, Nevada. Image copyright Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has launched a full broadside against Donald Trump, accusing her Republican opponent of issuing a "steady stream of bigotry" and espousing policies that would "put prejudice into practice".

"From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia," she said. "He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous."

The 35-minute speech was largely a recitation of Mr Trump's most controversial statements and actions over the years - his "Mexican judge" comments about Gonzalo Curiel, his questioning of Barack Obama's birth status, his campaign ties to the "alt-right" movement and a 1973 Justice Department lawsuit that accused him of refusing to rent apartments to minorities.

Mrs Clinton also took a few swipes at what she characterised as her opponent's unpresidential temperament.

"Don't worry, some will say, as president, Trump will be surrounded by smart advisers who will rein in his worst impulses," she said. "So when a tweet gets under his skin and he wants to retaliate with a cruise missile, maybe cooler heads will convince him not to."

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Media captionIs Trump's pitch to black voters a lost cause?

It was a reprise of criticisms she had made in a June speech in which she targeted the Republican's foreign policy views, prompting an angry response from Mr Trump. Thursday's speech was no different.

"Just watched recap of #CrookedHillary's speech," Mr Trump tweeted. "Very short and lies. She is only one fear-mongering!"

The campaign also released statements from several political advisers and business associates denouncing Mrs Clinton's speech.

"Today proved to the American public what we have known all along - Hillary Clinton has no hope, no vision and no ideas for the future of our country," campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. "We're living in her head rent-free, and that must terrify the political insiders who want to keep things exactly the way they are."

Outside the confines of Mr Trump's campaign team, however, the Republican Party establishment's reaction has been the political equivalent of crickets chirping.

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Image caption Hillary Clinton has accused Donald Trump of having ties to white supremacists

According to Frank Thorp of NBC News, press representatives of both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - the highest-ranking Republican officeholders in the US - said the two men probably did not watch Mrs Clinton's speech.

The Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who has laboured to smooth relations between the Trump campaign and the party apparatus, also has gone dark - as has the party's media office.

It's a telling development - and one that plays directly into a rapidly unfolding Clinton campaign strategy to drive a wedge between mainstream Republicans and their presidential candidate. Instead of trying to hang Mr Trump's current unpopularity around the neck of establishment officeholders and their rank-and-file supporters, the Democrats have offered their counterparts an olive branch.

Mrs Clinton's speech on Thursday, in fact, was a natural extension of Mr Obama's address during the Democratic National Convention last month, in which he portrayed Trumpism as not "particularly Republican" or conservative.

"I think it's fair to say, this is not your typical election," he said. "It's not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice - about who we are as a people."

If this is now the official strategy of the Democratic Party, its adoption was far from certain. According to hacked party emails made public by Wikileaks last month, officials in the Democratic National Committee debated the merits of - and expressed unease with - drawing distinctions between Mr Trump and the rest of Republican Party.

"We would basically have to throw out our entire frame that the GOP made Trump through years of divisive and ugly politics," Democratic Party communications director Luis Miranda writes to a colleague. "We would have to say that Republicans are reasonable and that the good ones will shun Trump. It just doesn't work from the party side."

From the Clinton campaign side, however, the strategy has obvious appeal. It may make it easier for the former secretary of state to negotiate with Republicans if she is elected president - and ensure that election is more likely.

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Image caption Republican congressional leaders Paul Ryan (left) and Mitch McConnell reportedly did not watch Hillary Clinton's speech

Mrs Clinton has a lead in both national and swing-state polls, but Mr Trump is currently in the middle of attempting - sometimes awkwardly - to smooth out some of his sharper rhetoric and back away from controversial stances.

He has a new campaign team and has replaced his occasionally meandering, inflammatory rally speeches with scripted addresses that focuses on what he describes as Mrs Clinton's ties to the corrupt establishment.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump said he was open to "softening" his hard-line position on deporting the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US, for instance.

Mrs Clinton may have decided this was opportune moment to unload her trove of opposition research in hopes of turning up the heat on her opponent and solidifying her current advantage.

At least so far, it appears that many mainstays in the Republican Party are happy to let their nominee - the supposed standard-bearer of their party - endure the flames on his own.

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