Updated Sept. 8, 2016 11:06 a.m. ET
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.— Hillary Clinton cast Republican rival Donald Trump on Thursday as an erratic figure who could jeopardize America’s security, in a news conference in which she also announced plans to convene a bipartisan group of national-security experts to help devise plans to combat Islamic State.
Coming off an appearance by both candidates at an MSNBC televised forum devoted to national security, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump’s answers were further proof that he is “totally unqualified to be commander-in-chief.”
She denounced his call for seizing oil reserves in the Middle East as a way to deprive the Islamic State of a revenue source. She said that, “when asked how he would stop the spread of global terrorism, Trump’s answer was simply ‘take the oil.’ The United States of America does not invade other countries to plunder and pillage. We don’t send our brave men and women around the world to steal oil, and that’s not even getting into the absurdity of what it would involve—massive infrastructure, large numbers of troops, many years on the ground. Of course, Trump hasn’t thought through any of that.”
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She also faulted Mr. Trump for talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin in respectful terms while criticizing President Barack Obama. In his appearance at the forum, Mr. Trump at one point cited Mr. Putin’s high approval ratings in Russia and said he wanted an alliance with Russia that would “knock the hell out of ISIS.”
The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mrs. Clinton, speaking to reporters beside her campaign plane, said, “Bizarrely, once again, he praised Russia’s strong man, Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he prefers the Russian president to our American president. Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief. It is scary because it suggests that he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him.”
She added: “What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president? I think we know the answer.”
Mrs. Clinton gave opening remarks and fielded questions before flying to Charlotte, N.C., for a campaign event. After months of minimal dealings with the traveling campaign press corps, she now has held three press availabilities in the past four days.
She sought to cast herself as a mature alternative to Mr. Trump who would be a steady figure on the international stage. The Democratic nominee emphasized the endorsements she’s received from various U.S. military leaders and national security.
Her national-security meeting Friday will have a bipartisan flavor with two former secretaries of Homeland Security in attendance: Michael Chertoff of Republican George W. Bush’s administration and Janet Napolitano of the Obama administration.
One of her priorities, she said, will be finding a way to “hunt down” Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That, she said, would “send a resounding message that nobody directs or inspires attacks against the U.S. and gets away with it.”
Mrs. Clinton repeated an emphatic point she made at the candidates forum—that she would not put U.S. ground troops in either Iraq or in Syria.
Though she ordinarily gives answers that leave herself some room to maneuver, in this instance she made a blanket statement that could prove troublesome if conditions in the Middle East were to change.
At her news conference Thursday, she said: “I think putting a big contingent of American ground troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria would not be in the best interest in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. In fact, I think it would fulfill one of their dearest wishes, which is to drag the U.S. back into a ground war in that region.”
She added, “I support the air campaign. I support special forces. I support enablers. I support surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance.”
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