In some of the strongest language she has used since declaring her presidential bid last year, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton signaled that she is ready to move past Bernie Sanders and take on presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump this fall.
Asked in a CNN interview if she thought Trump is qualified to be commander-in-chief, she said flatly that he isn’t fit to serve in the Oval Office: "I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness as well as strength and smarts in it, and I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States."
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She cited the billionaire’s complaints about NATO, his criticism of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and his praise of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as just some of the reasons the real estate mogul shouldn’t be president.
She also described Trump as "divisive and dangerous" and "unmoored."
Clinton’s remarks were far removed from the more nuanced and cerebral responses she often provides on the campaign trail in response to Trump’s latest broadsides.
While the comments show the former First Lady is itching for a fight with the Republican standard-bearer, it’s also clear she plans to wage the battle on her own terms.
For instance, she indicated that she wouldn’t respond to Trump’s escalating attacks on her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, whom the billionaire has accused of rape.
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“He can say whatever he wants to say,” said Clinton. “I know that’s exactly what he is fishing for and I’m not going to be responding.”
However, ignoring Trump’s barbs usually just makes them sharper, something his fellow GOP contenders sometimes realized just days before the primary that eliminated them from contention. Even when rivals like Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL) did respond, it made no discernable difference in the polls.
Clinton explained that she will get different results because the rest of the GOP field “didn’t fundamentally disagree” with the mogul on issues like keeping the minimum wage low or abortion, and she’s not trying to curry favor with the same pool of voters.
Trump wasn’t the only one Clinton had choice words for, telling CNN there is “no way” she doesn’t beat Sanders for the Democratic nomination.
“I will be the nominee for my party ... That is already done in effect. There is no way I won't be," she said.
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Telling Sanders to essentially get over it isn’t likely to play well with the Vermont senator’s campaign team, or his supporters, and could cause them to double down on his vow to take the nomination fight all the way to the Democratic Party’s national convention in July.
At the same time, Clinton was quick to note that Sanders has repeatedly vowed he would work to unify Democrats ahead of Election Day.
The interview suggested that Clinton is tired of fighting a political battle on two fronts, and that she can push back hard if she has to.