JOHNSTOWN — Republican Donald Trump, in a rally here on Friday, criticized Democratic leaders for what he sees as their feckless foreign policy choices, vowing to instead take a hard line on such issues and restore what he believes is America’s diminished standing in the world.
Speaking to a crowd inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Trump mentioned Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who just days ago suggested he was considering cutting both economic and military ties with the U.S. in favor of aligning himself and his nation more closely with China. Duterte has since clarified his remarks.
But that didn’t stop Trump from seizing on them Friday, in an attempt to blame Democratic leaders like president Barack Obama and Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, for what he sees as America’s increasing unpopularity on the world stage.
“The world hates Obama and hates us,” Trump said.
“The Philippines is looking to Russia and China because they don’t feel good about the weak America. And that’s a very strategic location [the Philippines]. Remember he [Duterte] didn’t want Obama to visit there.”
Trump has drawn comparisons to Duterte himself, with both men known for an outspokenness not often seen in diplomatic circles, and for their hardline approaches to subjects including crime and terrorism.
On Friday, Trump said the U.S. no longer projects strength from a foreign relations standpoint, and he vowed to change that.
He also vowed to shut down open discussions of U.S. military operations overseas, criticizing current U.S. leaders for what he said is an over-sharing of intelligence.
“Now Obama gets up and announces, ‘We will be attacking Mosul [Iraq] and guess what happens, two hours later all the leaders are gone. These are stupid people,” he said of politicians like Obama.
“Why not do it and talk about it afterward? We used to have a thing called the element of surprise.”
In response to such claims, intelligence officials have said the sharing of such information can allow civilians time to get to safety, and can also cause combatants to flee into more open areas where lethal force can be more effective and accurate.
But Trump disagrees, and said he won’t be so open, if elected.
Trump also said his refusal to share specific details of his anti-ISIS strategy is because he doesn’t want to give too much away. Again he pointed to the element of surprise.
But the candidate was more than willing to discuss his plans for his current political nemesis, Hillary Clinton, calling her a “corrupt globalist” and a liar.
When her name drew chants of “Lock her up” from the War Memorial audience on Friday, Trump vowed again to consider it as president, saying “Don’t worry, that whole thing will be looked into. It’s really, really sad. She’s lied over and over and over.”
Trump said during a recent presidential debate that he would have Clinton investigated and possibly imprisoned, if elected. He claims his desire to do so stems from controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while Secretary of State, and potential mishandling of classified information, among other claims. FBI investigators said while careless, Clinton’s handling of her emails wasn’t criminal. As a result, the agency declined to recommend criminal charges against her after an investigation into the matter. A factcheck.org run-down of the scandal can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, the email situation remains fodder for Republican opponents like Trump, while his calls to have a political opponent jailed or investigated have fueled criticism of his own campaign by those who call the assertion dangerous and in violation of America’s Democratic ethos.
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