Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she is certain that Americans won’t take a chance with Donald Trump in November because he is a “loose cannon.”
“I don’t think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump running our country,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview. “I do think he is a loose cannon, and loose cannons tend to misfire.”
In the interview, which aired one day after Trump became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Clinton also weighed in on the ongoing Democratic primary and comments she made about the coal industry in March, when she said “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Taking on Trump
Some Democrats have expressed concern over Clinton’s ability to handle Trump, who bested more than a dozen Republican competitors in the GOP primary fight. Trump, speaking earlier in the day with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, said he was a good “counter-puncher.”
Clinton, however, said Trump was the one starting the fights.
“He’s the one who’s been running that kind of very negative, aggressive, bullying campaign,” she said.
Cooper asked Clinton if she was worried about Trump attacking her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The real estate magnate has already taken shots at the 42nd president, at one point calling him “one of the great women abusers of all time.”
“If he wants to go back to the playbook of the 1990s, if he wants to follow in the footsteps of those who have tried to knock me down and take me out of the political arena, I’m more than happy to have him do that,” Clinton said, laughing. “This, to me, is a classic case of a blustering, bullying guy who has knocked out of the way all the Republicans because they were just dumbfounded.”
Earlier Wednesday, Clinton retweeted Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said “I’m going to fight my heart out to make sure @realDonaldTrump’s toxic stew of hatred & insecurity never reaches the White House.” But Clinton declined to say whether she agreed with Warren’s statement that Trump “built his campaign on racism, sexism and xenophobia.”
“I think Elizabeth Warren’s really smart,” she said. “I’m going to let people judge for themselves, but I have the highest regard for Sen. Warren.”
‘Let’s get on the American team’
Clinton vowed she wouldn’t let Trump knock her off her gameplan heading into November.
“He could choose to run whatever campaign he wants to run. I’m going to keep staying on the campaign I’m running. I have more than 3 million votes over Sen. (Bernie) Sanders and I have 2 million votes over Trump. I’m going to keep telling people what I will do as president and I’m going to keep being specific,” she said.
But pressed about the experience of other Republicans — who lost handily to Trump while sticking to their own game plans and not adjusting — Clinton said she “can’t run their campaigns.”
“I can only tell you the campaign I’m going to run, and the campaign I’m going to run is about what we will do in the future,” she said. “And I invite a lot of Republicans and independents who I’ve been seeing on the campaign trail, who’ve been reaching out to me, I invite them to join with Democrats. Let’s get on the American team.”
Explaining her position on coal
Clinton’s coal comments in March led to a frosty reception in West Virginia earlier this week, and Trump seized upon the remarks in his victory speech on Tuesday night when he said, “I watched her talking about the miners as if they were just numbers.”
“Well, no, that’s just a broad misrepresentation,” Clinton told Cooper when asked about the controversy. “I’ve been very clear: We’ve got to make a transition to clean, renewable energy. I’ve also been very clear for this whole campaign that we can’t do it in a way that totally leaves behind people who dug out the coal to turn on the lights and to power our factories.”
She added, “One hundred thousand coal miners in this country lost their lives in the 20th century, so I want people to pay attention to what we, as a nation, need to do to support them. But the market is making this decision. The market has driven down the cost of coal so you have companies going bankrupt. So what I’m offering is a $30 billion plan to really revitalize coal country, to provide support for coal miners and their families, and I think that is the least the country owes these brave people.”
Echoes of ’08 in Sanders fight
Clinton is looking to finish off Sanders, who beat her in Indiana Tuesday night. Despite having a large delegate lead, Clinton told Cooper she wasn’t ready to call for an end to the Democratic fight — citing her unsuccessful 2008 battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama.
“I’m not calling myself that (the presumptive nominee),” Clinton said. “I know there are some contests ahead and I respect Sen. Sanders and whatever choices he’s making. And I have a lot of empathy about this, Anderson. You know, I ran to the very end in 2008. And I won nine out of the last 12 contests, people forget that. I won Indiana. I won West Virginia. I won a lot of states, but I couldn’t close the gap in pledged delegates. And the gap between me and Sen. Sanders is far wider than it was between me and Sen. Obama.”