Hillary Clinton let loose on Donald Trump at a Monday campaign rally in Ohio, ridiculing his business acumen and pointing to his recently surfaced 1995 tax return as proof that he “represents the same rigged system that he claims he’s going to change.”
“It doesn’t look like he paid a dime of federal income tax for almost two decades,” Clinton told an exuberant crowd in Toledo, referring to a New York Times investigation that found the $915 million in losses Trump reported in 1995 could have allowed him to avoid paying any federal income taxes for 18 years.
“While millions of American families, including mine and yours, were working hard, paying our fair share it seems he was contributing nothing to our nation,” she continued. “Imagine that. Nothing for Pell grants to help kids go to college. Nothing for veterans. Nothing for our military.”
Calling Trump a “category by himself” even within the “cowboy culture” of big business, Clinton ridiculed the real estate mogul for losing money in the lucrative casino industry and trying to frame his tax avoidance as the deft maneuvering of a savvy businessman.
“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” Clinton said to cheers from the crowd, mocking the word campaign surrogates have used to describe Trump’s business skills in the wake of the Times’ bombshell report.
“He’s taking corporate excess and making a business model out of it,” she continued. “He abuses his power and games the system and puts his own interests ahead of the country. It is Trump first and every one else last.”
In a pointed affront to Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns in a break from 40 years of historical precedent, Clinton said the U.S. should pass a law requiring the nominee of both major parties to make their tax records public.
The Democratic nominee appeared to be riding high after a week that saw pundits and reputable polls declare her the winner of the first presidential debate and a steady stream of negative headlines for her Republican opponent. The crowd in Toledo repeatedly interrupted her impassioned speech, peppered with one-liners directed at Trump, with chants of “Hillary! Hillary!”
“Trump was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill,” Clinton said of the tax report. “Now, he says he’s the one that could fix things but that’s like letting the fox guard the hen house, right?”
Name-dropping Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Clinton used the tax return to contrast Trump’s approach to business with her campaign promise to create “an economy that works for everyone.”
The former secretary of state called for paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, and, as Warren has championed, a sharper federal focus on consumer protection.
Tailoring the speech to the Rust Belt audience, Clinton also knocked Trump and his vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), for raising doubts about the bailout of the auto industry.
“He would have let you twist,” she told the crowd.