RALEIGH, N.C. — A confident and cheerful Hillary Clinton allowed herself a little sarcasm and a more cocksure tone on Sunday as she mocked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and unapologetically touted herself as the listmaker in chief.
Clinton's campaign also announced that she will stump again Thursday in battleground North Carolina, alongside first lady and breakout campaign star Michelle Obama. It will be their first side-by-side appearance in support of Clinton's presidential bid.
Comfortably ahead in most polls nationally and in a majority of battleground states, Clinton sounds increasingly free to dismiss her opponent with a few jokes and focus instead on her lengthy to-do list as president.
“We’ve got challenges, don’t get me wrong,” Clinton said at an outdoor rally on a sparkling fall afternoon.
“I’ve laid out a whole agenda about dealing with those challenges,” she said, adding that she is sometimes criticized for the detail of those proposals.
“I’ve got to tell you, I think a lot of the women in the audience will appreciate — we are list-makers!” Clinton exclaimed to laughs and cheers.
She spent relatively little time marking out the ways she claims Trump is unfit to be president, or even comparing herself with him, and she delved happily into discussions of technical education, student debt, infrastructure spending and economic growth.
The former secretary of state barely mentioned any of the international challenges that await her if she wins Nov. 8, but she recycled a theme she often used when speaking to foreign audiences as chief U.S. diplomat.
“I traveled across the world. I saw many things that distinguished us” from other countries, she said. “The peaceful transfer of power is one of the things that makes America America, and, frankly, it's one of the things that makes America already great,” she said to whoops and laughter. “We can't ever give that up.”
When she was helming the State Department, Clinton would often say that she used her own example as the losing Democratic primary candidate in 2008 to make a point to foreign audiences about how democracy works. Rather than hire her, a former rival, as part of the government as President Obama did, she would say, leaders of some nations might have exiled her or worse.
“We have got to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. That is what the next president will say on Inauguration Day,” she said. “Those cannot be just words.”
Clinton was spending a full day in North Carolina on Sunday, with stops in the Raleigh-Durham area and in Charlotte. Recent polls in the battleground state place her between one and four percentage points ahead of Trump. African American turnout is a big factor, and Clinton is concentrating much of her efforts in the state on addressing predominantly African American audiences, including at churches and at historically black universities such as St. Augustine’s, where she spoke Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, Clinton addressed the congregation of an African American church alongside five black women who have lost children to gun violence or in altercations with police.
As has happened frequently throughout her campaign, the black church setting appeared to set Clinton at ease. She spoke in more personal terms than in her larger public political events, sprinkling Bible quotations and a couple of seemingly off-the-cuff jokes into otherwise somber remarks about racial injustice. That commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself” can be a tough one for someone in politics, she remarked dryly to a welcoming audience at Union Baptist Church in Durham.
“There are those, you know, fanning the flames of resentment and division who want to exploit people’s fears, even if it means tearing our nation further apart,” Clinton said to murmurs of agreement.
The murmurs grew louder as she continued, now scoffing openly at Trump, but she did not name him.
“They say that all our problems will be solved by more law and order!” she exclaimed. “As if systemic racism did not exist.”
“My opponent,” as she called him, had done those things and more during last week’s final presidential debate, Clinton said.
“I have stood next to him for four-and-a-half hours in those three debates, just proving once again that I have the stamina.”