RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hillary Clinton pushed back against Donald Trump’s questions about her religion and her competence Wednesday, casting him as a candidate with not much else to say about how he’d lead the nation.
Over two consecutive days, Trump has sought to focus his struggling campaign on Clinton, as Republican leaders have demanded. On Tuesday, in a video clip of his remarks, Trump appeared to suggest the public doesn’t know “anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”
Clinton, who has spoken and written about her faith, on Wednesday retorted with a quote from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
“As we Methodists like to say: do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can.”
Clinton also went after Trump for remarks in which he accused her of being “a world class liar” who personally profited from her tenure at the State Department. “She gets rich making you poor,” Trump said hours earlier during an address in New York.
“Think about it. He’s going after me personally because he has no answers on the substance,” Clinton told supporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. “So all he can try to do is try to distract us. That’s why he’s attacking my faith. Sigh.”
Both presumptive presidential nominees are attempting to unite their fractured parties ahead of the nominating conventions.
As Trump works to right his campaign from weeks of turmoil and poor fund-raising, Clinton was addressing her own challenge: drawing the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders. She’s vanquished him in the critical hunt for enough delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, but Sanders has not endorsed Clinton. On Wednesday, he allowed that it’s apparent he will not be the party’s nominee.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats nudged Sanders to go further.
“I know he knows what’s at stake,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “Two words: Donald Trump.”
Added Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, “I would love to see Mr. Sanders endorse. Go all in.”
Clinton, assured of her party’s presidential nomination, paired her response to Trump with a populist pitch aimed at white, working class voters who backed Sanders and are now being courted by Trump. The nation, she said, needs an economy that, “works for everyone — not just for the rich or the well-connected.” She also castigated Trump’s “reckless ideas that will run up our debt and cause another economic crash. I’m here today to offer an alternative.”
Noting his famous catch-phrase from NBC’s “The Apprentice” — “You’re fired!” — Clinton said if elected president, “I’m going to make sure you hear, ‘You’re hired!”
The former secretary of state said she would push an array of economic policies aimed at creating better-paying jobs building roads and bridges, offering debt-free college to students and helping those with massive college debt. She also vowed to pressure companies to share their profits with workers and curb the influence of Wall Street.
Earlier, Clinton received a rousing reception from House Democrats in her first stop on Capitol Hill since clinching the Democratic nomination.
Greeted by chants of “Hillary, Hillary,” Clinton promised to use her massive campaign infrastructure to help Democrats win congressional races as part of what she called a “50 state strategy.”
“She said: ‘I know the difference between having the House and not having the House, and I want the House,” recalled Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
Clinton’s and Sanders’ campaigns are discussing ways of addressing key economic issues in the Democratic platform which will be approved at the Philadelphia convention, including trade, providing free college tuition and cutting student debt and expanding Medicare and Social Security.
Democrats said there was little discussion of Sanders or Trump in the meeting, which was more like a pep rally for Clinton’s campaign. At one point, the members ribbed Rep. Xavier Becerra — who’s been mentioned as a possible running mate — when he poured Clinton a glass of water.
Becerra later said that he is not currently being vetted as a potential running mate. Other potential contenders include Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will campaign with Clinton on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
Lerer reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Alan Fram and Richard Lardner contributed to this report.
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