WASHINGTON – Iran is dominating the Middle East and is on a path toward acquiring nuclear weapons, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday night.
Reading from a teleprompter for only the third time in 51 weeks of campaigning, Trump focused his speech on attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose campaign declared victory in the Democratic primaries on Tuesday.
“They are dominant, folks,” Trump said of Iran, “and we have made them that way.” Then appearing to divert from his prepared remarks, he added: “Better hope I’m president.”
Trump’s other two teleprompter speeches were delivered at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in March; and other such speech on foreign policy came one month later.
In Tuesday’s speech, Trump also repeated a slogan for his presidential campaign, “America First,” which has been a point of concern for American Jewish community leaders.
The mantra evokes uncomfortable historic parallels for some: In the 1940s, the America First Committee opposed US intervention in World War II, the Zionist movement and the founding of the State of Israel.
Meanwhile, David Duke, a white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, blamed criticism of Trump and a recent controversy over the lawsuit involving his unaccredited university project on a vast Jewish conspiracy during his radio show on Tuesday.
While Duke has enthusiastically endorsed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump has disavowed the KKK figure in the past over similar comments suggesting Jews are conspiring against the candidate.
On his radio program, Duke said that an “overwhelmingly Jewish” firm is behind a fraud lawsuit against Trump University, which has grabbed headlines in recent days since Trump questioned the impartiality of the judge presiding over the case. The judge, an American, is of Mexican descent, which Trump said is a disqualifying factor given his policy proposal to build a US-Mexico border wall.
Media coverage of the case is “very illustrative of the Jewish tribal nature,” Duke said. “They’re like a pack of wild dogs when they go after someone who they see as a threat to the Jewish agenda, as the neocons see Trump as a threat – as a noninterventionist.”
Duke has a long history of characterizing the Jewish community as a nefarious and powerful cabal – a storied anti-Semitic trope. On Tuesday, he characterized “the powerful Jewish establishment that dominates international banking and finance, that dominates media, and dominates our political system” as “absolutely zeroing in now on Donald Trump.”
“The viciousness of these Jews is unbelievable,” he added. “I think this whole Trump University case really exploited – can really expose the entire Jewish manipulation of the American media – the American political process.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton claimed victory in her fight for her party’s presidential nomination on Tuesday night and made history as the first female ever nominated to run for president under the banner of a major American political party.
Clinton thanked her supporters for her success: “It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed to make this moment possible,” she said in a speech from New York City.
“We are all standing under a glass ceiling right now,” she said from the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse.
“But don’t worry – we’re not smashing this one. Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone: The first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee.”
Clinton said she wished that her mother, who died in 2011, were still alive to witness the moment. “She taught me never to back down from a bully, which, it turns out, was pretty good advice,” she said.
Clinton’s campaign now pivots to the general election against Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee. But her rival in the Democratic primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has yet to drop out of the race, and has vowed to take his fight for the nomination all the way to the party’s convention in Philadelphia next month.
Clinton maintains a substantial lead over Sanders in the primary popular vote and in pledged delegates toward the nomination. Paired with enough superdelegates who have voiced their support for Clinton to reach the party’s nomination threshold, several US media outlets declared her the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday night.
“This election is different,” Clinton said. “It really is about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say, we are better than this. We won’t let this happen in America.”
“And if you agree,” she continued, “whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, I hope you will join us.”
Clinton also harshly attacked Trump for using divisive rhetoric that belittled women, Muslims and immigrants. She took specific aim at his condemnation of an Indiana-born judge of whose parents emigrated from Mexico.
“The stakes in this election are high and the choice is clear. Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief,” Clinton said. “When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage, or he mocks a reporter with disabilities, or calls women pigs, it goes against everything we stand for,” she said.
Clinton edged Sanders out in a rough and tumble battle that stretched over four months and 50 states. She won support, especially among older voters, with a more pragmatic campaign focused on building on the policies of her fellow Democrat President Barack Obama.
Obama called both Clinton and Sanders on Tuesday. The White House said he congratulated her on securing the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination and would meet with Sanders on Thursday at Sanders’s request.