Donald Trump on Wednesday hammered Hillary Clinton in a long-awaited speech, calling her a “pathetic liar” who has personally profited off her decades-long political career.
Trump — reading from a teleprompter, which he has increasingly relied on in pivotal moments — unloaded his opposition research file against Clinton in the more than 40-minute-long speech.
The likely GOP presidential nominee said his Democratic rival had “perfected the politics of personal profit and theft” and “may be the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.”
“She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes, and many others, in exchange for cash,” Trump said to a small group of supporters at the Trump SoHo hotel in New York City.
Trump accused Clinton of devastating the middle class by supporting bad trade policies that extend back to former President Bill Clinton’s time in the White House, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S. entrance into the World Trade Organization.
“Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” Trump said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich. … She gets rich making you poor.”
He declared that the controversy around Clinton’s use of a private email server “disqualifies her from the presidency” because “we can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies.”
“They probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be president of the United States,” Trump said.
And he blamed her for “single-handedly” destabilizing the Middle East as secretary of State, saying her “tryout for the presidency has produced one deadly foreign policy disaster after another.”
“Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched,” Trump said.
Trump said Clinton “soundly slept in her bed” while the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Trump was not shy about revealing the sources for his speech, repeatedly reading excerpts from the book “Clinton Cash,” by controversial conservative author Peter Schweizer.
He also read letters from the loved ones of those killed in the Benghazi attack who have been critical of Clinton.
Trump had planned to give the speech last week but changed course at the last minute after the mass shooting in Orlando, deciding instead to give an address on national security.
The focus on Clinton comes after several weeks in which Trump has been blown off course.
His poll numbers began falling after his racially charged attacks against a federal judge overseeing several Trump University lawsuits.
Clinton has opened up a 6-point lead nationally over Trump in the RealClearPolitics average, after he had caught up to her in late May.
Trump sought to right the ship with a strong response to the Orlando shooting, but he has been overwhelmed by missteps and tumult within his campaign.
At one point, Trump questioned President Obama’s commitment to stopping terror attacks on U.S. soil. His consistently controversial remarks have sent allies on Capitol Hill scrambling to avoid having to answer for his statements.
And the chaos outside Trump’s campaign has mirrored the inner workings of his tightly knit inner circle. On Monday, Trump parted ways with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who had been with him from the start.
That was followed by a terrible May fundraising report, which received a mocking reception from political watchers and set off alarms among Republicans, who worry he’s not interested in raising money for himself or the national party.
Trump’s Wednesday speech could help him rally conservatives around a common enemy in Clinton and remind Republicans how fierce a critic he will be against Clinton in the general election.
And Trump appears committed to turning things around on other fronts as well.
He has attended several big-dollar fundraisers over the last two weeks and has begun sending out email appeals for cash.
And he appears to be professionalizing his campaign after dispensing with Lewandowski. Trump says he has plans to grow his campaign team significantly.