Washington: Hillary Clinton has asserted she will emerge as the US presidential nominee from the Democratic camp as she hit out at her Republican rival Donald Trump for his 'dangerous' rhetoric including a ban on Muslims, saying the billionaire is unfit to lead the country.
"I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done in effect. There is no way that I won't be," Clinton told CNN. The 68-year-old former secretary of state is yet to reach the magic number of 2,383 delegates but with 2,293 delegates already in her kitty, she has a lead comfortable enough that she could lose all the states left to vote by a landslide and still emerge as the Democratic nominee to face Trump.
This is so long as all her supporters among the party insiders known as super delegates continue to back her. "I am confident. Well, in part from my own experience, you know?" she said when asked where from she was getting the confidence.
"I went all the way to the end against then Senator (Barack) Obama. I won nine out of the last 12 contests. Back in 2008 I won Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, so I know the intense feelings that arise, particularly among your supporters as you go toward the end. But, we both were following the same rules, just as both Senator Sanders and I are following the same rules," she said about the contest with her sole primary rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. When asked if she thinks Trump is qualified to be the US president, Clinton said: "No, I do not."
"I think in this past week, whether it's attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea - a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying pull out of NATO, let other countries have nuclear weapons, the kinds of positions he is stating, and the consequences of those positions, and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous," Clinton said in the interview yesterday.
She said Trump says a lot of things that are provocative that actually make the important task of bringing everybody to the table and defeating terrorism more difficult.
"For example, when he says bar all Muslims from coming to the United States that sends a signal to majority Muslim nations, many of whom we have to work with in order to defeat terrorism, some of whom are already among our strongest allies in this fight - it sends a message of disrespect, and it sends a message that makes a situation inside those countries more difficult for them to call all-in the way we need them to go all-in," said Clinton.
Trump, she pointed out, has said all Muslims should be barred from coming into the US. "All Muslims. Nobel Prize winners, entertainers, sports stars, you name it. The new mayor from London, all Muslims should be barred.
"Now, when confronted with the new mayor from London who, as you know, is the first Muslim elected to be mayor of London by the people of London, he says, well I'll make an exception for him. I mean, the whole approach is just incredibly provocative and wrongheaded," she added.
"Look what Trump has done just in the last week. He's attacked our closest ally, Great Britain. He has praised the reckless dictator in North Korea. He has said we should pull out of NATO, our strongest military alliance. He has advocated for more countries having nuclear weapons," she said.
By his dangerous rhetoric, Trump is being used to, essentially, be a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism, she claimed.
"I think if you go through many of his irresponsible, reckless, dangerous comments it's not just somebody saying something off the cuff, we all misstate things. We all may not be as careful in phrasing what we say.
"This is a pattern. It's a pattern that has gone on now for months, and it's a pattern that adds up, in my opinion, having watched presidents, having seen the incredibly difficult work that they do, and the decisions that they have to make, the thinking that goes in - sitting in the Situation Room," she said.
"Do we go after Bin Laden, or not? I was part of that. "Was it a clear easy choice? Of course not. Did it have to be carefully parsed, and analysed, and then we all gave our opinions, but it was up to the President to decide. I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness, as well as strength and smarts in it, and I have concluded that he is not qualified to be President of the United States," Clinton said.
Hours later, the real estate tycoon fired back by asking the former secretary of state who are responsible for the Egyptian plane crash, an incident being described by some as an act of terror.
"Ask Hillary who blew up the plane last night - another terrible, but preventable tragedy," Trump said in a statement. "She has bad judgement and is unfit to serve as President at this delicate and difficult time in our country's history.
"The fact that Hillary thinks the temporary Muslim ban, which she calls the "Muslim ban", promotes terrorism, proves Bernie Sanders was correct when he said she is not qualified to be President," the presumptive Republican nominee said.
"Look at the carnage all over the world including the World Trade Centre, San Bernardino, Paris, the USS Cole, Brussels and an unlimited number of other places. She and our totally ignorant President won't even use the term radical Islamic terrorism," he alleged.
The Sanders campaign, too, was quick to criticise Clinton for claiming to becoming the nominee even as she has not got enough delegate.
Sanders, who has 1,533 delegates, has refused to leave the race and says he would fight till the last vote in the primary election is cast till early June.
But, Clinton exuded confidence that she would be the party nominee as the numbers and the math are on her side. She also said she and Sanders are much closer than either is with Trump.
"I'm three million votes ahead of him, and I have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, and I am confident that just as I did with Senator Obama, where I said, you know what? It was really much closer than it is between me and Senator Sanders right," she asserted.
"I worked really hard to make the case, as I'm sure Senator Sanders will, that whatever differences we might have, they pale in comparison to the presumptive nominee of the Republican party. Name an issue you care about, domestic or international, and clearly we are much closer - Senator Sanders supporters and mine, than either of us is with Donald Trump," she said.
Michael Briggs, spokesman of Sanders' campaign, said: "In the past three weeks voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton. We expect voters in the remaining eight contests also will disagree.
"And with almost every national and state poll showing Senator Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign."
Political pundits believe Clinton is on her way to become the first women to be nominated as a presidential candidate of a major US party.