Washington, June 25 (IANS) She called him “most dangerous” and he dubbed her a “world class liar” and “most corrupt” as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump joined the battle of the most unpopular candidates ever sending fact-checkers scrambling for truth.
As negative views of the would-be Republican standard bearer surged to a record 70 percent in a new poll, the highest for any US presidential candidate in three decades, Clinton with her own unfavourable rating of 55 percent, took aim at the Manhattan mogul.
If her rival’s foreign policy proposals were “reckless,” he was “dangerous” to the economy too, said the Democrat exhorting, “Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the (nuclear) button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy.”
Noting that Trump’s own products are made in a lot of countries from Trump ties in China to Trump picture frames in India, she asked him “to explain how all that fits with his talk about America first.”
After what pundits termed a bad week for Trump with some Republicans recoiling at his harsh rhetoric against Muslims in the aftermath of Orlando shooting, calling for a “conscience vote” and a “mutiny” against him, the billionaire struck back swiftly.
First, he fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was said to have got into the crosshairs of party donors for his equally brash style afer a family conclave.
Then using a teleprompter, he delivered a very presidential speech that Republican big wigs had “pined” and “begged for,” as a TV anchor put it.
He called Clinton a “world-class liar,” citing her statements about her email server and suggested she was sleeping when “that 3 a.m. call came” about an attack on a CIA post in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
Citing “Clinton Cash”, a new book by a conservative author, he also accused Clinton Foundation of taking millions of dollars from foreign regimes that “horribly abuse women and LGBT citizens.”
Media fact-checkers were quick to find holes in claims and counterclaims made by both camps. The Washington Post said Clinton could not be sleeping at the time of Benghazi attack as it was afternoon in Washington then.
And CNN found “no hard evidence” for Trump’s charge that Clinton ran the State Department “like her own personal hedge fund” doing favours for oppressive regimes in exchange for money.
It also found “no conclusive evidence” her controversial private email server “was hacked.”
But on Clinton’s claim that Trump believes “climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese,” the AP noted that the mogul has described as a joke his 2012 tweet that the Chinese created the concept “to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”
A Washington Post writer, who literally made a meal of his column for wrongly predicting that Trump would never be the Republican nominee, also accused Trump of getting there with what he called the “Taj Technique” of “overpromising and under-delivering.”
“Trump is doing to the Republican Party what he did to Atlantic City,” the writer said suggesting Trump won control of his Trump Taj Mahal casino in 1990 by running huge debts and then declared bankruptcy two years later to come out fine personally.
And as Britons voted to leave the European Union, Trump took a sort of victory lap in Scotland as he drew a parallel with his own campaign saying “Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.”
“Brexit is a big bump for Trump,” acknowledged Trump critic Chicago Tribune editorially, “It ratifies his arguments that citizens should reject the dictates of technocrats, politicians and self-anointed experts.”
Meanwhile, many more fed up voters are following the quirky lead of a Virginia woman who “faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton,” according to the obit penned by her son, “chose to instead pass into eternal love of god.”
In fact according to obituary clearing house legacy.com, the number of such political obits has already shot up to 119 this election cycle – a sharp rise from five during the George Bush-John Kerry battle in 2004 to 28 for Barack Obama-John McCain contest in 2008.
So come November 8, the choice for the American voters may well be: Trumpit,
Clintonit or final exit.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])