U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a campaign speech outside the shuttered Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder(reuters_tickers)
By John Whitesides
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City on Wednesday to highlight Republican rival Donald Trump's casino bankruptcies, warning he would bring the same cutthroat approach to managing the U.S. economy.
Clinton, standing next to the shuttered Trump Plaza casino that Trump once owned, said the real estate developer routinely profited from the financial ruin of workers in the economically depressed seaside resort town.
"The people he's trying to convince to vote for him are the same people he's been exploiting for years - working people, small-business people," Clinton said.
Clinton said Trump’s casino bankruptcies and numerous complaints against him by contractors showed he cannot be trusted to set economic policy from the White House.
"He makes over-the-top promises and says if people trust in him, put their faith in him, he'll deliver," she said. "Then everything falls apart, people get hurt, and Donald gets paid."
The Trump Plaza was one of four casinos Trump once owned in Atlantic City. He left the city after his last bankruptcy.
Clinton frequently uses criticism of Trump's business record to illustrate a principle campaign theme - that the wealthy New Yorker is only interested in boosting his financial bottom line, and not concerned about the economic struggles of working Americans.
Clinton reminded supporters who gathered on the boardwalk under a boiling sun, within steps of the city's beach, that Trump had promised to "do for the country what I did for my business."
She said Trump intentionally ran up hundreds of millions of debt on his companies, borrowed at high rates, defaulted on the loans, and left in the lurch the workers and contractors who relied on his casinos for income.
"That says everything you need to know about Donald Trump," Clinton said. "It’s not about what he can build. It’s about how much he can take."
Atlantic City has struggled economically in recent years as a series of casinos have closed. The city's 10 percent unemployment rate is nearly double the national average, and closed buildings pockmark its boardwalk.
In an emailed statement, Trump defended his bankruptcy filings on casinos and other projects as a commonly used practise to restructure a business and ultimately save jobs.
"I created thousands of jobs and made a lot of money in Atlantic City, which was what, as a businessman, I am supposed to do for my company and my family – and as President I will make America rich again," he said.
"Nobody understands the economy like I do and no one, especially not Crooked Hillary Clinton, will do more for the economy than I will."
After the speech, Clinton drove a few blocks to shake hands with dozens of striking workers outside the Trump Taj Mahal, another of the casinos that Trump once owned.
Her attack on Trump’s business dealings came as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee blasted her integrity following an FBI report that criticized her use of private email during her tenure as secretary of state.
Clinton did not address the email issue during her stop in Atlantic City.
On Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey said the agency would recommend no criminal charges against Clinton for her use of private email servers. But Comey rebuked her for what he said was "extremely careless" handling of classified material on her email servers, and contradicted her claims that she never transmitted or received classified material on that email system.
Republican lawmakers criticized Comey for what they saw as lax treatment of Clinton, and on Wednesday, committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, announced that Comey will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday to explain the bureau's "surprising and confusing" recommendation.
The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton broke the law as result of personal email servers kept in her Chappaqua, New York, home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, including whether she mishandled classified information on the servers.
(Additional reporting by Alana Wise in Washington)