Trump a 'threat' to US democracy: Hillary
FILE - In this May 3, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in New York. Trump and Hillary Clinton will court voters on opposite sides of the gun debate over the next two days in events that will highlight the nation?s deep divide on the topic. Trump and other top Republicans will speak at the National Rifle Association convention Friday, May 20, 2016, in Louisville, where organizers are trying to unite gun-rights voters by painting Clinton as a foe of their causes who must be stopped. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Washington - "I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness as well as strength and smarts in it."
Hillary Clinton on Thursday blasted her likely general election rival Donald Trump as a threat to US democracy and declared him unqualified to be president, unleashing some of her toughest criticism yet of the Republican presumptive nominee.
"The threat that Donald Trump poses is so dramatic to our country, to our democracy and our economy," the former secretary of state told CNN in an interview.
"I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness as well as strength and smarts in it," she added. "And I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States."
The statement marks a hardening of her position on Trump.
On May 3, Clinton declined to answer directly when asked by MSNBC whether Trump was qualified to be commander in chief, although Clinton said the New York billionaire "has given no indication he understands the gravity of the responsibilities" that go with the job.
Clinton's criticism on Thursday was more biting, and left no doubt that the gloves are off, perhaps for the duration of the contest that culminates with the November 8 election.
She pointed to Trump's recent criticism of top officials of US ally Britain; his stated willingness to meet North Korea's reclusive dictator; his assessment that Nato is "obsolete"; and his suggestion of opening the door to more countries, such as Japan or South Korea, having nuclear weapons.
Such positions are "dangerous," Clinton said, adding that the totality of Trump's alarming statements since he launched his presidential campaign, including calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, amounts to a worrying "pattern."
"I think if you go through many of his irresponsible, reckless, dangerous comments, it's not just somebody saying something off the cuff," Clinton said.
Trump's antagonistic tone towards Muslims would make it far harder for Washington to work with Middle Eastern governments in fighting extremism, she said.
"We have seen how Donald Trump is being used to essentially be a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism," Clinton said.
"When you run for president of the United States, the entire world is listening and watching."
Clinton's pugnacity came as she all but declared victory in her nomination battle with Bernie Sanders.
"I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done," she said. "In fact, there's no way that I won't be." Sanders, a US senator from Vermont, insists he is still locked in a fierce battle for the nomination and has vowed to take the race all the way to June 7, when California, the most populous state in the union, holds its primary.
But Clinton essentially said it was time for Sanders to accept the inevitability of her winning the nomination.
"I'm three million votes ahead of him and I have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates," she said.
With only six US states left to vote, Clinton's delegate lead, including so-called super-delegates, is formidable. She has 2,297 delegates compared to Sanders's 1,527, according to a CNN tally. A candidate needs 2,383 delegates to be declared the nominee. - AFP