WEST BEND, Wis. (AP) — Donald Trump on Tuesday accused rival Hillary Clinton of being "against the police" and claimed that she and other Democrats pander to African-American voters.
"We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes — that's all they care about," Trump said in remarks delivered not far from Milwaukee — the latest city to be overcome by violence in the wake of a police shooting.
Trump, who is lagging behind in the polls, accused Clinton of being on the side of the rioters — and argued that Democratic policies have made life for African-Americans and in inner cities worse.
"Our opponent Hillary would rather protect the offender than the victim," he claimed, adding that "a vote for her is a vote for another generation of poverty, high crime and lost opportunities."
Clinton's campaign did not respond late Tuesday to a request for comment.
Trump's remarks, delivered via teleprompter in a rare departure from his usual freewheeling rally remarks, came after Clinton vowed Tuesday to conduct a national security and foreign policy that Americans could be proud of.
"It just absolutely bewilders me when I hear Donald Trump try to talk about national security," Clinton said, pointing to Vice President Joe Biden's dissection of Trump's foreign policy at a Pennsylvania event Monday. "What (Trump) often says hurts us. It sends the wrong message to friend and foe alike."
Turning to the U.S. Olympic team, she said, "Team USA is showing the world what this country stands for."
Trump said in a speech Monday that the country's national security requirements demanded "extreme" vetting of immigrants seeking admission to the United States, pointing to the threat of the Islamic State group and terrorist elements. On Tuesday night, he posted on Facebook a pledge to "reject bigotry and hatred and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people."
That's a vastly different tone than he's often used during his year-plus campaign, and it comes after he's repeatedly refused to "pivot" from his appeal to Republican voters to the broader general electorate. During Trump's campaign, he's said that many Mexicans are rapists, feuded with the Muslim-American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq and proposed to suspend immigration by Muslims.
In a risky move, Trump traveled Tuesday to Milwaukee, the site of ongoing protests over the fatal shooting of a black man by a black police officer. His visit followed several days of violence that have left businesses in flames.
Trump began his visit with a meeting with local law enforcement officers at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center on Lake Michigan. Among those present were Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who penned an op-ed Monday blaming liberal Democrats and the media for the unrest that has rocked the city.
Clinton said Monday during a stop in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that the Milwaukee protests showed the nation had "urgent work to do to rebuild trust between police and communities" and said "everyone should have respect for the law and be respected by the law."
In an interview on Fox News Channel, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker accused Clinton of "inflaming the situation" with her comments.
"I think people understand in that neighborhood and Sherman Park and in Milwaukee, they want law enforcement to step up and protect them," he said, adding that "statements like that" from Clinton and a "lack of leadership" from President Barack Obama "only inflame the situation."
Trump told Fox News that the shooting in Milwaukee may have occurred because the officer had a gun to his head.
"Who can have a problem with that?" Trump said. "If it is true, then people shouldn't be rioting."
Trump's campaign also announced Tuesday that it will finally begin airing its first ads of the general election next week in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
While polls have shown Clinton building a lead following the Philadelphia convention, Democrats are fearful that a depressed voter turnout might diminish support among the minority, young and female voters who powered Obama to two victories.
Clinton said at a voter registration event at a Philadelphia high school that she's "not taking anybody anywhere for granted" in the race for the White House, saying the stakes "could not be higher."
While guarding against complacency, Clinton is also preparing for a potential administration.
Her campaign announced that former Interior Secretary and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar would chair her White House transition team.