Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton unleashed some of their harshest criticisms about each other to date on Thursday, a day after a televised forum on national security put each under a strong spotlight.
Appearing at a school in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump said Clinton's performance Wednesday night provided more evidence that she was unfit to be commander in chief. Trump said Clinton continued to refuse to take responsibility for her "failed" Middle East policies as secretary of state.
He called Clinton "trigger-happy" in a race to invade countries and topple regimes, resulting in "ruin and death" in Libya, Iraq and Syria.
When she was secretary, Clinton ran a criminal enterprise, Trump asserted, by granting favors to donors to the Clinton Foundation charity, and he accused her of smashing telephones with hammers to hide evidence from investigators.
Trump intimated that those who backed Clinton for president were "suckers."
Clinton told a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Trump's comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "far more" of a leader than President Barack Obama "shocked her."
"That is not just unpatriotic, it's not just insulting to the office and to the man who holds the office. It is scary, it is dangerous," she said.
'Secret' IS plan
Clinton also derided Trump's "secret plan" to defeat Islamic State. She said it was a secret because he had no plan. She also took Trump to task for commenting in public Wednesday night on a confidential national security briefing given to presidential candidates.
Obama reacted to Trump on Thursday from Laos.
"The most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what he says and follow up and ask questions to what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright wacky ideas," he said.
Trump and Clinton will square off directly in their first presidential debate on September 26, with two more scheduled before the November 8 election.
Another presidential candidate ran into trouble Thursday because of his apparent lack of knowledge about Syria.
Libertarian Gary Johnson was asked about the city of Aleppo on MSNBC television.
"What is Aleppo?" he replied.
Johnson later said he "blanked" and that he knew all about the fighting and tragic humanitarian crisis in Syria's largest city.
Johnson is struggling to reach 15 percent approval in voter polls, which would allow him to take part in the debates between Trump and Clinton.