Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton criticized Donald Trump’s answers at the NBC commander in chief forum in a press conference Thursday morning.
Speaking in front of her campaign jet on a tarmac in White Plains, New York, Clinton argued that Trump was “totally inappropriate and undisciplined” when he discussed a recent classified intelligence briefing.
“I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received,” she said.
Read a full transcript of the press conference.
CLINTON: Good morning, good morning. Good morning, everyone.
Last night, I was very glad to be able to begin a conversation with the American people, and offer some of my thoughts about ISIS, Iran, and how we reform the V.A. system to provide better care for our vets. And I’m honored that in the last 24 hours, more retired generals and admirals have decided to endorse my campaign.
To focus more on these crucial challenges, tomorrow I’m convening a meeting of bipartisan national security leaders and experts, including former secretaries of homeland security, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano; General John Allen; former acting director of the CIA Michael Morell; and former NATO supreme allied commander James Stavridis, and others.
We will discuss how to intensify our efforts to defeat ISIS and keep our country safe. To that end, I want to underscore something that I mentioned last night. We should make it a top priority to hunt down the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and bring him to justice just as we did with Osama bin Laden. As with that operation, getting al-Baghdadi will require a focused effort driven at the highest levels. But I believe it will send a resounding message that nobody directs or inspires attacks against the United States and gets away with it.
Let me be clear: Last night was yet another test, and Donald Trump failed yet again. We saw more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.
He trash-talks American generals, saying they’ve been, quote, “reduced to rubble.” He suggested he would fire them and replace them with his hand-picked generals. He attacked dozens of former flag officers by saying that, quote, “We’ve (sic) been losing for us for a long time.”
That’s how he talks about distinguished men and women who have spent their lives serving our country, sacrificing for us. That’s how he would act as commander in chief.
Meanwhile, bizarrely once again, he praised Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he prefers the Russian president to our American president. Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief. It is scary because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do, and then make excuses for him.
CLINTON: I was just thinking about all of the presidents that would just be looking at one another in total astonishment. What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president? I think we know the answer.
And when asked how he would stop the spread of global terrorism, Trump’s answer was simply “take the oil.” The United States of America does not invade other countries to plunder and pillage. We don’t send our brave men and women around the world to steal oil. And that’s not even getting into the absurdity of what it would involve: massive infrastructure, large numbers of troops, many years on the ground. Of course, Trump hasn’t thought through any of that.
Every Republican holding or seeking office in this country should be asked if they agree with Donald Trump about these statements.
Now, one thing you didn’t hear from Trump last night is any plan to take on ISIS, one of the biggest threats facing our country. He says his plan is still a secret, but the truth is he simply doesn’t have one. And that’s not only dangerous. It should be disqualifying.
So I have a very different vision for how we keep our country safe and strong. I respect the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve America. I will work with our allies to defeat ISIS. And I will hold true to our country’s most cherished values.
You know, even with all of the attention paid to the campaign, we cannot forget how important this decision is. This weekend is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I will never forget the horror of that day, but I will never forget either the victims and survivors, and the brave first responders and emergency responders that I met with and served and worked for as senator from New York.
That’s what kept me working so hard in the Senate on behalf of 9/11 families. That’s who I was thinking of 10 years later in the White House situation room with President Obama when the decision was made to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. That’s the kind of commander in chief I will be, someone who will bring us together in common purpose to keep our people safe and our country strong.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the latest Real Clear Politics average has you up by an average of 2.8 percentage points over Donald Trump. Given what you say are his historic inadequacies and disqualification on the commander in chief point that you just made, shouldn’t you just basically be running away with it at this point?
CLINTON: Well, as I’ve said many, many times, I’ve always thought this was going to be a close election. That’s why we’ve been putting organizations in place, gearing up for these final weeks, to mobilize and turn out our voters. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.
And I feel we’re in a strong position, but we’re not taking anyplace, anyone, anything for granted. We’re going to keep working as hard as we can and hopefully pull out as many voters who agree with me as we possibly can muster.
CLINTON: Hi, Jeff (ph).
QUESTION: You said unequivocally last night that you would not put troops into Iraq ever again. Isn’t, A, that ignoring some ground forces who are there; and B, boxing yourself in should your military commanders, if elected, advise that you in fact need to do that?
CLINTON: Well, Jeff (ph), first of all, I’ve said that before. I’ve said it on numerous occasions. I believe it. I think putting a big contingent of American ground troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria would not be in the best interest of the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. In fact, I think it would fulfill one of their dearest wishes, which is to drag the United States back into a ground war in that region.
However, I’ve been very clear, and I said this again last night, I support the air campaign. I support special forces. I support enablers. I support surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance. I will absolutely be prepared to do whatever is necessary to support the Arab and Kurdish fighters on the ground to take out as much of the infrastructure of ISIS from the air; to go after Baghdadi, as I said today, with a very focused commitment to taking him off the battlefield.
CLINTON: I think the approach I’ve outlined intensifies what we are doing, but also recognizes that there is no, in my opinion, path forward to ground troops that would be in our interests.
QUESTION: Hi, good morning.
Secretary Clinton, you’ve been criticized by the RNC for your demeanor last night, that you were too serious, that you didn’t smile enough.
Can you react to that? And also you suggested that there is a double standard. Do you think that you’re treated differently in this race because you’re a woman?
CLINTON: Well, I’m going to let all of you ponder that last question. I think there will be a lot of Ph.D. theses and popular journalism writing on that subject for years to come. I don’t take my advice and I don’t take anything seriously that comes from the RNC.
We were talking about serious issues last night. I know the difference between what we have to do to fix the V.A., what we have to do to take the fight to ISIS, than just making political happy talk.
And I had a very short window of time in that event last night to convey the seriousness with which I would approach the issues that concern our country.
Donald Trump chose to talk about his deep admiration and support for Vladimir Putin. Maybe he did it with a smile and I guess the RNC would’ve liked that.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: Like the hat.
QUESTION: Appreciate that.
CLINTON: Is this a new look?
QUESTION: No, its kind of an old look, now.
CLINTON: Oh, you’re bringing it back?
QUESTION: I’m bringing it back.
CLINTON: Went shopping in your closet?
QUESTION: You got it.
CLINTON: Yeah. I do a lot of that.
QUESTION: Last night, Mr. Trump suggested in some of his security briefings that briefers made a suggestion or an insinuation that they were not pleased — the CIA was not pleased with the decisions that the administration and President Obama have made so far.
Did you get that same impression in the briefings that you got? And can you comment otherwise on that suggestion from Mr. Trump?
CLINTON: I think what he said was totally inappropriate and undisciplined. I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received.
QUESTION: (inaudible) different standard? And what does that mean for you going into the debate?
CLINTON: That’s a very fair question. I — I have been somewhat heartened by the number of articles recently pointing out the quite disparate treatment of Trump and his campaign compared to ours. I don’t understand the reasons for it. I find it frustrating, but its just part of the landscape that we live in and we just keep forging ahead.
Look, I — I think this is a really important moment for everybody in our country, as you have seen by the numbers of Republicans concerned about Trump coming forward and saying, “This is not acceptable.”
They are willing to put their names out there, people who’ve never endorsed a Democrat, people who’ve never endorsed before because they are so concerned about this man and how totally unqualified he is to be president and how totally temperamentally unfit he is to be commander in chief.
So I know that he says outrageous things on a, you know, pretty regular basis. And I know that’s part of the coverage and I know that it may be difficult to feel that you know exactly how to respond to some of his behavior.
But we’re on the brink of making a very critical decision for our country. And if I were not the candidate, if I were not the nominee, if I were just a concerned citizen, I’d be out here doing everything I could to sound the alarm about someone like Donald Trump getting anywhere near the White House.
And I will continue to do that.
(UNKNOWN): Thanks, guys.
CLINTON: Well, you could look on the map and find Aleppo.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary (inaudible). (LAUGHTER)
CLINTON: I love you, Andrea. You are indefatigable. You’re my kind of woman, I’ll tell you what. Look at this. OK. I know. Go ahead. I mean the sympathy vote, the whole thing. I love it.
CLINTON: Matt Olsen, right? Right.
QUESTION: (inaudible) Donald Trump.
CLINTON: Right, right.
CLINTON: No, that’s not true.
CLINTON: Well, you know, look, I mean the Republicans are just in a terrible dilemma trying to support a totally unqualified nominee. I have no sympathy for them. It’s their nominee. But I am not going to tolerate them continuing to make misleading, inaccurate accusations and putting out misinformation about me.
And here’s the latest example. Matt Olsen, the very distinguished and effective former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was so disturbed by what he has seen coming from the Trump campaign that he wrote an article that I guess came online in the last 48 hours, pulling from public sources, very clear statements by ISIS leaders, essentially throwing whatever support they have to Donald Trump.
They have, as Matt Olsen pointed out, said they hoped that Allah delivers America to Trump. They have said that they hope that he is the president because it would give even more motivation to every jihadi, someone who has insulted Muslims; has insulted a Gold Star family of an incredibly heroic Captain Khan; someone who has said he doesn’t want to let Muslims around the world even come to our country.
That is a gift for ISIS, and that is what Matt Olsen, who knows more about this than the Republicans trying to somehow muddy the waters, very clearly stated. That’s what I mean.
And look, I’m not asking for any special treatment. I — I know the road that I’m on. I’ve been on it for 25 years, and I just get up every day and keep moving forward. I love this country. I will serve it with my entire heart, mind and soul. I will do everything I can to protect America.
And I will do everything I can to make sure Donald Trump is not president, for many reasons, but this latest information coming from a distinguished counterterrorism expert should put every American’s mind in motion to try to figure out what everyone can do to prevent Trump from being the president.
(UNKNOWN): Thanks, everybody.
CLINTON: Thank you.