Clinton calls Trump’s rhetoric ‘political arson’ in St. Louis speech

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ST. LOUIS, MO -- Hillary Clinton on Saturday accused Donald Trump of inciting violence at his rallies, one day after fights and protests led to the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago.

Clinton said at a campaign event outside St. Louis that the "ugly, divisive rhetoric we are hearing from Donald Trump and the encouragement of violence and aggression is wrong, and it's dangerous."

"If you play with matches, you're going to start a fire you can't control," Clinton said about Trump at a caucus kick-off event at a local YMCA. "That's not leadership. That's political arson. The test of leadership and citizenship is the opposite. If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. And if you see a bully, stand up to him."

Clinton acknowledged the "anger" that is motivating people on the left and the right of the political divide but said the way to bridge the gap "is to stand together against the forces of division and discrimination that are trying to divide America between us and them."

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has made knocking Trump a regular part of her stump speech, blasting the businessman for comments he has made against Mexicans, women and Muslims. She regularly touts herself as the first candidate to call out his rhetoric.

But at the outset of the Republican race, many inside Clinton's campaign saw Trump as an interesting sideshow, not someone who could credibly capture the Republican nomination.

That has changed. Clinton's top aides now view Trump as the favorite to win the Republican nomination, and Clinton has started to go after the brash billionaire with more directness.

"You don't get the chance to make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great," Clinton said, parroting Trump's campaign slogan. "No, our values, our diversity, our openness, these are strengths, not weaknesses."

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