Hillary Clinton seized the opportunity offered by Sunday’s 21 anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington to deliver a thinly veiled attack on the extremism and division stoked by Donald Trump, as she called for a return to national unity.
The former US secretary of state and first lady invoked the country’s bipartisan mood following the September 11 attack in which nearly 3,000 people were killed.
“We were able to come together as a country at this terrible time, we put aside the differences. I wish we could find ways to do it again,” she told CNN in an interview for the State of the Union political show Sunday morning.
It was recalled how, as the United States Democratic Senator from New York, in 2001 she flew over the burning wreckage of the World Trade Center in the disaster area known as Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, and went on the air to pledge her unwavering support for Republican President George W Bush’s efforts to lead the US response.
Clinton noted that she met with Bush and requested $20 billion in federal funds to rebuild. “And he said ‘You get it,'” she told CNN anchor Dana Bash.
Clinton’s complaint about the demise of such national unity then led her to passionately attack the turn to extremism in American politics, but without mentioning Trump, the former Republican president who could still run in 2024. , by name.
She said 9/11 reminded Americans “how impossible it is to try to fight extremism of any kind, especially when it uses violence to try to achieve political goals. and ideological”.
In another implied reference to Trump’s right-wing Make America Great Again (Maga) movement, she went on to say that a “very vocal, very powerful, very determined minority want to impose their views on the rest of us.” It’s time for everyone, regardless of party, to say no, this is not who we are as America.
Clinton’s remarks came on the morning the United States marked 21 years of al-Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, as well as Flight 93, the hijacked plane that s crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon, where he recalled that “terror struck us on this bright blue morning” but did not destroy “the character of this nation that terrorists sought to hurt”.
Biden, who lost his first wife and their daughter in a car accident that also injured their two sons and then later lost one of those sons, Beau, to cancer, said, “I know about y’all who lost someone only 21 years old is a lifetime and no time at all.
The US President was joined in the pouring rain by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who spoke of “a day of horror and loss” as 2,977 people were killed by the impact of the four airliners hijacked by the terrorists.
First lady Jill Biden led commemorations at the Shanksville memorial site, accompanied by her sister Bonny Roberts, whom Biden initially feared he had lost that day because she was a flight attendant for United Airlines, who suffered two of the hijackings, but, it turned out, weren’t flying that morning.
Kamala Harris and the second gentleman, her husband Doug Emhoff, joined the celebration at the National September 11 Memorial in New York.
The Vice President did not speak, as is tradition, allowing the commemoration to be enlivened by the reading of the names of those who died and moments of silence to mark the points where the hijacked planes have hit each of the towers.
But in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, which aired on Sunday, she spoke about America’s reputation as a global model of democracy under threat.
She cited the right’s challenges to electoral integrity, including the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to reverse Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden, and the reluctance of hardline Republicans. to condemn it, while presenting many candidates. in the ongoing elections who still refuse to accept the real result.
“I think it’s a threat…it’s very dangerous and I think it’s very harmful. And that makes us weaker,” she said.
She added that when meeting with foreign leaders, the United States “has historically had the honor and privilege to hold our heads high as a champion and example of a great democracy. And that then gives us the legitimacy and the position to talk about the importance of democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights…. through the process of what we have been through, we are beginning to allow people to question our commitment to these principles. And that’s a shame.”
On Sunday, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority Leader in the US House of Representatives, criticized the Biden administration.
“Twenty-one years ago we had a commander-in-chief [George W Bush] that united the country rather than divided the country,” McCarthy told Fox News. He said were the Republicans to regain control of the House in November’s midterm elections, “we would build a secure nation.” We’ve seen Democratic politics make it America’s (sic) deadliest in the last 20 years.