MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed her rival Donald Trump on Monday for saying that the week-old effort to re-take the Iraqi city of Mosul from the control of Islamic State was going badly.
“He’s basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started,” Clinton said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief.”
In a tweet on Sunday, Trump, the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, said the “attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb.”
Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by the United States, have mounted a huge assault on the area surrounding the city, the last stronghold of Islamic State forces in Iraq. They have retaken about 80 Islamic State-held villages and towns since the offensive was launched on Oct. 16, but have yet to move on the city itself.
The operation could last weeks, or even months. Islamic State on Monday mounted counter-attacks across the country against the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces, trying to deflect attention away from the Mosul campaign.
With just over two weeks to go until the election, former Secretary of State Clinton is ahead of the New York businessman in national opinion polls. Both candidates are focusing on a small set of swing states that could decide the contest: while Clinton campaigned in New Hampshire on Monday, Trump spent the day in Florida.
Seeking to cement a wide advantage she holds with women voters, Clinton enlisted the help of firebrand U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who slammed Trump over allegations that he tried to grope or kiss several women over a 20-year span.
“He thinks because he has a mouthful of Tic Tacs that he can force himself on any women within groping distance,” Warren told the raucous crowd of 4,000 at St. Anselm College in Manchester. “Well, I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump. Women have had it with guys like you.”
At least 10 women have said Trump made unwanted sexual advances, including groping or kissing, in incidents from the early 1980s to 2007, according to reports in various news outlets. Trump has denied the women’s allegations, calling them “totally and absolutely false” and promising on Saturday that he would sue his accusers.
Warren’s reference to mint candies referred to a moment in a 2005 video that surfaced earlier this month in which Trump was heard boasting about groping and kissing women.
Warren also referenced Trump calling Clinton “a nasty woman” at last week’s final presidential debate, a phrase that quickly caught fire on social media, sparking hashtags and T-shirts.
“Get this Donald, nasty women are tough,” Warren said. “Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. And on Nov. 8 we nasty women are gonna march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”
Clinton praised Warren for taking the fight to Trump. “She gets under his (Trump’s) thin skin like nobody else,” Clinton said.
At an event for farmers in Boynton Beach, Florida, earlier in the day, Trump disputed multiple national and state polls that show him losing to Clinton and accused the media of distorting poll results to discourage his supporters from voters.
“I believe we’re actually winning,” Trump said.
Just the day before, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that the candidate was trailing in the race, saying in a TV interview, “We’re behind.”
According to Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project, which surveys the vote in battleground states, Clinton leads Trump in most of the states that Trump would need to win to have a chance of amassing the minimum 270 Electoral College votes needed to capture the White House.
According to the survey, she has a better than 95 percent chance of winning, if the election was held this week. The mostly likely outcome would be 326 votes for Clinton to 212 for Trump. The Electoral College votes represent a tally of wins from the states.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez in New Hampshire and Steve Holland in Florida; Writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Caren Bohan and Frances Kerry)
Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives to a campaign event accompanied by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at Alumni Hall Courtyard, Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria