WASHINGTON — Moving closer to the Republican nomination, Donald Trump on Wednesday turned to the global affairs a new commander in chief must face, assailing likely November rival Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama as usual, but in a more measured “presidential” tone.
The brash businessman’s ability — or inability — to believably master that role has been seen as one of his biggest vulnerabilities as the potential Republican standard-bearer.
“Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction,” he declared. “The best way to achieve those goals is through a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy. With President Obama and Secretary Clinton we have had the exact opposite — a reckless, rudderless and aimless foreign policy.”
Trump delivered the address a day after sweeping five Northeast primaries, bringing him tantalizingly close to securing the Republican presidential nomination against rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In his speech, he criticized Democratic front-runner Clinton anew for her handling of the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He dismissed President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as steeped in weakness and chaos.
Clinton, who served as Obama’s secretary of state, emerged from Tuesday’s primaries with 90 percent of the delegates needed to claim the Democratic nomination, putting her in an even stronger position against rival Bernie Sanders. Trump’s speech offered an early glimpse of how he would seek to undermine Clinton’s experience in foreign policy and assure Republicans who are wary of his ability to provide a steady hand in leading the nation’s interests around the globe and overseeing the U.S. nuclear capability and military.
“It’s time to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy. It’s time to invite new voices and new visions into the fold,” Trump said.
In a preview of their likely general election fight, Clinton said during her Tuesday night rally in Philadelphia that Trump had accused her of playing the “woman card,” telling supporters, “if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in.”
Trump reiterated that Clinton was “playing the woman card,” telling CNN’s “New Day” in a telephone interview Wednesday that “she does have the woman card” but said that “a lot of women don’t like Hillary, despite the card.”
The Republican race now turns to Indiana, where next week’s primary marks one of Cruz’s last chances to slow Trump and push the race toward a contested convention. While Trump does need to keep winning in order to stay on his narrow path to the GOP nomination, he declared himself the party’s “presumptive nominee” after Tuesday’s results rolled in.
Cruz spent Tuesday in Indiana, where Kasich’s campaign has withdrawn in an attempt to give the Texas senator a clear path. Cruz announced Wednesday morning in Indianapolis that he would make a “major announcement” later in the day amid speculation that he might name former rival Carly Fiorina as a running mate.
Asked earlier on Fox & Friends about Cruz potentially naming a running mate, Trump said, “To me it looks ridiculous, he’s not going to get the nomination.”
Trump emerged with more than 50 percent of the Republican votes in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, and scored over 60 percent in Delaware and Rhode Island. Similarly, Clinton won convincingly in four of the five contests, scoring 56 percent in Pennsylvania and 63 percent in Maryland — the two biggest contests of the night. Sanders won the Rhode Island primary with 55 percent of the vote.
Trump’s foreign policy speech in Washington was the first in a series of speeches the Republican front-runner is expected to give in the coming weeks, all with the goal of easing Americans’ concerns about his readiness for the presidency.