Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in a prepared statement on Friday, reacted much like the former secretary of state she is to the news that voters in the United Kingdom had chosen to leave the European Union. Her words drew a sharp contrast with her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
With world financial markets reeling in confusion over the impact that Great Britain separating itself from the EU common market might have, Clinton sought to reassure U.S. citizens and to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to both the U.K. and Europe.
“We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made,” she said. “Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America. We also have to make clear America’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship with Britain and the transatlantic alliance with Europe.”
Clinton’s words differed sharply with what the world had heard hours earlier from Trump, who happened to be traveling in Scotland when the referendum’s result was announced. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee celebrated the decision, calling it “great,” and speculated that it might lead to the ultimate collapse of the entire EU.
He also appeared to take credit for the success of the “Brexit” campaign, which was waged in large part by supporters fear-mongering about the impact of immigration on the British economy and job market. He suggested that it validated the broadly anti-immigrant policy positions he has promised to adopt if elected. In a press release issued later in the day, he urged U.S. voters to “re-declare their independence” in November by voting for him.
Clinton, for her part, also invoked the election, but in a subtler way.
“This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests,” she said. “It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.”
Though the dig at Trump was veiled, it was still hard to miss. With her opponent jumping on the Brexit bandwagon, talking about global “anger” and predicting the collapse of major international institutions, Clinton has plainly calculated that her best move is to project calm and steadiness.