NEW YORK CITY -- Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, eager to turn to the general election but still facing a more competitive than expected primary against Bernie Sanders, is now simultaneously campaigning against both her current opponent and her potential future one, Donald Trump.
Ahead of the primary next week in New York -- a state with ties to all three candidates -- the Clinton campaign has debuted a new television ad that outright attacks Trump, while also taking a subtle swipe at the Vermont senator.
“With so much at stake,” a voice-over in the ad concludes following footage of the Republican presidential front-runner, “she’s the one tough enough to stop Trump.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, Clinton held back-to-back campaign events, one seemingly aimed at Trump, the other at Sanders.
The day began with the former New York senator making an unannounced visit to the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens -- the borough where Trump was born -- where she met with local elected officials at the Jackson Diner, a popular Indian restaurant. During the meeting, Clinton said that Trump "does not respect the diversity” of the borough and that his words were “hurting” America. She pledged to continue speaking out against him.
Clinton then shifted focus and went straight to Long Island for a panel on gun control, where she, along with family members of gun violence victims, took shots at Sanders for his record on guns, some of which were seen as a stretch.
“He frequently says, 'Well you know I represent Vermont. It’s a small, rural state. We have no gun laws,'” Clinton said, referring to Sanders. "Here’s what I want you to know. Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. And the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont.” (The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog later gave this attack against Vermont “three Pinocchios,” saying it's a "misleading data point" that "creates a significantly misleading impression to the public.”)
Both Erica Smegielski — the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who was killed in 2012's mass shooting -- and Sandy Phillips -- who lost her daughter in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, shooting -- participated in the panel. Smegielski has called on Sanders to apologize for his gun policies, while Phillips has requested that Sanders meet with her in person.
Over the weekend, Clinton said at a campaign event in Brooklyn that she needs to “win big” in New York next week, because “the sooner I become the nominee, I can turn and unify the Democratic Party like I did with President Obama back in 2008, and the sooner we can go after the Republicans full time."
When asked on Monday about these comments and if she was surprised that the primary was dragging on for so long, Clinton brushed it off and said she’s prepared to take on both candidates.
“We’re just going to keep going,” she told reporters during her stop at the Jackson Diner. “I think I can walk and chew gum at the same time.”