Donald Trump on Sunday laid out plans to use Sen. Bernie Sanders’s attacks to weaken Hillary Clinton in a general-election matchup.
Trump, doubling down on his comment that Clinton is succeeding in the Democratic primaries only because she is a woman, said that Sanders has leveled criticism that was “a lot worse” and that he will use it if he runs against Clinton in November.
Sanders “said that she almost shouldn’t be allowed to run, that she’s not qualified to run and she’s not capable,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’m going to use that. We’ll have that teed up. . . . What he said is incredible. It’s a sound bite,” Trump said.
His plans lend credibility to Clinton’s argument that Sanders’ refusal to drop out of the Democratic primary race will harm her presumptive general-election campaign.
In early April, Sanders repeatedly questioned whether Clinton was qualified for the White House.
“I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds,” Sanders said while campaigning in Philadelphia.
“I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don’t think you are qualified if you’ve supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement, which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs.”
These are the kinds of comments Trump suggested he will use against Clinton. He said she will have to “be able to take it” if the two become their parties’ nominees for president.
“She’s a strong person – she’s going to have to be able to take it,” Trump said. “The fact is, the only card she has is the woman’s card. She’s done a lousy job in so many ways. Even women don’t like her. . . . If she were not a woman, she would not even be in this race.”
Trump also predicted that his support among women and Hispanic voters – two groups seen as essential for winning the presidency – will rise once he clinches the Republican nomination.
“I see those numbers going up,” Trump said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I have two more people to get rid of. . . . Once I start on Hillary, you’ll see the numbers change. Watch what happens with Hillary, and watch what happens with my numbers.”
Clinton said Sunday that Trump’s attacks are “kind of silly.”
“Remember, I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak,” she said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I’m not going to deal with their temper tantrums or their bullying or their efforts to try to provoke me. He can say whatever he wants to say about me. I could really care less.”
Clinton and Trump are increasingly seen as their parties’ likely nominees.
Sanders, trailing Clinton in pledged delegates and total votes, has started shedding staff and losing fundraising momentum as primary contests in Indiana and California draw near. He told CBS on Sunday that winning the nomination will be “difficult but not impossible.”