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Clinton calls Trump comment on security briefing ‘undisciplined’

‘Trump’s praise of Putin was not just unpatriotic but also scary’

By Reuters - Sep 08,2016 - Last updated at Sep 08,2016

WHITE PLAINS, New York — US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton chastised Republican rival Donald Trump on Thursday for talking about things he learned in classified intelligence briefings, calling it "totally inappropriate and undisciplined”.

Speaking to reporters the morning after a New York security forum featuring separate appearances by the two candidates, Clinton also slammed the businessman for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and saying US generals had been "reduced to rubble" by the policies of US President Barack Obama.

At the televised forum on Wednesday night, Trump said he was "shocked" by information he got during the briefing. "What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts ... said to do," Trump said.

"I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing I received," Clinton, a former secretary of state, said before boarding her campaign plane. As nominees for the November 8 presidential election, she and Trump are entitled to receive intelligence briefings.

Clinton said Trump's praise of Putin as a better leader than Obama was "not just unpatriotic" but also “scary”.

"It suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him," Clinton said.

Trump's campaign fired back at Clinton after her session with reporters, saying she was resorting to "unhinged and dishonest" attacks.

"These are the desperate attacks of a flailing campaign sinking in the polls, and characteristics of someone woefully unfit for the presidency of the United States," Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Trump, said in a statement.

Clinton's lead over Trump in national opinion polls has weakened in recent days. The current average of polls by website RealClearPolitics puts her at 45.6 per cent support, compared to Trump's 42.8 per cent.

Obama also hit back at Trump for criticising his foreign policy record, saying the Republican nominee was unfit to follow him into the Oval Office and the public should press him on his "outright wacky ideas”.

The televised "Commander-in-Chief" forum on Wednesday, attended by military veterans, was the first time Trump and Clinton had squared off on the same stage since accepting their parties' White House nominations in July, although they did not appear at the same time.

It offered a prelude to how Clinton and Trump will deal with questions of national security in their three upcoming presidential debates later in September and in October.

Clinton has said her experience in government as secretary of state and a US senator makes her uniquely qualified for the White House, and that Trump's series of controversial comments makes him temperamentally unfit for the office.

Some of Trump's foreign policy positions, such as his proposal to fight terrorism by imposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, have alarmed not just Democrats but many in his own party's leadership.

Trump, who has never held elected office, has criticised Clinton's judgement, attacking her vote in favour of the 2003 Iraq war and her support for the US intervention in Libya in 2011. The Republican candidate was widely criticised recently when he called her a "co-founder", along with Obama, of Daesh.

Clinton said on Thursday she would convene a meeting of bipartisan security experts on Friday to discuss the fight against Daesh militants.

"What you didn't hear from Donald Trump last night was any plan to take on ISIS," Clinton told reporters, using an acronym for the Daesh group. "That's not only dangerous, it should be disqualifying."

Trump and Clinton supporters went on the offensive on social media Wednesday night and Thursday morning, defending their candidates' performances during the forum.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway met with Trump supporters in Congress on Thursday morning, and Trump spoke with the group by phone to thank them for their support. Afterwards, some of his supporters shrugged off his comments about Putin.

"I think he is being very smart in how he addresses Putin and you know, maybe he's playing with Putin's ego," said Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

 

Clinton said Republicans holding or seeking office across the country should be pressed on whether they agree with Trump's comments, including his views on Putin and US generals that surfaced during the forum.

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