If the last 24 hours are any guide, it’s shaping up to be a very long and very acrimonious summer on the presidential campaign trail. After presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spent the better part of an hour lambasting her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, for his economic policies Tuesday, Trump returned the favor Wednesday with a 45-minute harangue accusing her of personal corruption and worse.
Clinton, in turn, took time away from what was billed as a major economic policy speech on Wednesday afternoon to address Trump’s attacks.
“Look, I know Donald hates it when anybody points out how hollow his sales pitch really is,” Clinton said at a rally in North Carolina. “And I guess my speech yesterday must have gotten under his skin because right away he lashed out on Twitter with outlandish lies and conspiracy theories and he did the same in his speech today. Now think about it. He’s going after me personally because he has no answers on the substance.”
She saved particular scorn for Trump’s repeated insinuation that the Clinton family uses its charitable foundation as a means of lining their own pockets, calling him out for “attacking a philanthropic foundation that saves and improves lives around the world.”
“It’s no surprise he doesn’t understand these things,” she said, adding, “Donald Trump uses poor people around the world to produce his line of suits and ties.”
The string of zingers aimed directly at her opponent’s most recent remarks came at the end of a speech in which Clinton actually put some meat on the bones of her economic agenda.
The remarks focused on five main initiatives that she says she would push in her first 100 days in office, the first of which she described as the “biggest” job creation program since the end of the Second World War. It would be driven by investment in reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure.
Taking a page from her chief Democratic rival during the primaries, Clinton pledged to “make college debt free for all.” That’s a small but very real difference from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ promise to make public colleges and universities free, but would still involve a radical transformation of the way higher education is funded in the U.S.
She offered a vague outline of a proposal to change tax laws in a way that would result in companies “sharing” more profits with employees rather than returning them to shareholders through stock buybacks or placing them out of the reach of US tax authorities in foreign subsidiaries.
She also reiterated her call for a very Trump-like “exit tax” that would punish companies that move their headquarters overseas in order to avoid US taxes.
Clinton also renewed her call to make corporations and the “super rich” pay higher taxes and to implement more “families first” policies, including a higher minimum wage, paid maternity leave, and other benefits.
But the supportive crowd came to life the most when Clinton went after her opponent -- and in some respects, so did Clinton herself, who appears to relish needling Trump, and showed over the last two days that she’s happy to give as good as she gets.