TOLEDO, Ohio; WINSTON SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton on Thursday over her trade policies, saying she would handle trade deals so badly that the country should “just cancel the election” and name him the victor.
Speaking to supporters in Toledo, Ohio, Trump said the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, had led to the outsourcing of thousands of Ohio jobs to Mexico, a practice he vowed to stop if elected president on Nov. 8.
“We should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?” he said. “What are we even having it for? Her policies are so bad.”
Trump said he believed Clinton would seek passage of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama’s signature Asian trade deal, which she now opposes.
Trump’s remarks came as the New York businessman tries to steady rocky poll numbers amid a series of controversies and self-inflicted wounds.
He has struggled to handle the fallout from the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video that showed the then-reality TV star talking on an open microphone about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. The video was taped only months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.
Trump said on Thursday it was “certainly illegal” for NBC to release the tape and he left open the option of seeking legal action against the network after the election.
Since the video’s release, a series of women have accused Trump of groping them or kissing them without their consent. Trump has called the allegations “absolutely false.”
The latest RealClearPolitics poll average showed Clinton with a nearly 6-point national lead over Trump, fueled by declining support among women for his candidacy.
Trump, without evidence, has blamed his sagging poll numbers on a rigged election, and said the media had fixed the opinion polls in order to inflate Clinton’s numbers.
STUMPING WITH FIRST LADY
Clinton on Thursday made her first joint campaign appearance with one of her most powerful supporters, first lady Michelle Obama, at a North Carolina rally to urge young people and women to vote.
Clinton, a former first lady who lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to then-US Senator Barack Obama before becoming his secretary of state, praised Michelle Obama for standing up for the rights of girls and women worldwide, drawing a sharp contrast with her Republican rival.
“I wish I didn’t have to say this. … But indeed, dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election,” Clinton told a crowd of about 11,000. “And I want to thank our first lady for her eloquent, powerful defense of that basic value.”