Hillary Clinton gave us a preview of how she'll take on Donald Trump

Clinton, Sanders vie to be anti-Trump candidate
Clinton, Sanders vie to be anti-Trump candidate

Hillary Clinton is vowing to stay out of the mud with Donald Trump.

For now.

"I'm not going to be responding to him. I have pretty thick skin," she told Business Insider during a Thursday interview at Purchase College in New York.

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"I've been in the arena a long time," she continued, "and that means that I am not going to get down with him and go insult for insult."

It was part of a preview of her strategy against Trump should the pair face off in the general election — a matchup that appears most likely at this point.

During her 25-minute interview with Business Insider, Clinton provided an extensive insight of how she'd look to take on the Republican frontrunner, who has been an unprecedented phenomenon on the GOP side. She plans to do so by tacking a different tack than the 13 major Republican candidates who have tried — and so far failed — to bring down Trump.

Look through Clinton's 2016 campaign so far:

She hinted that she believed she would fare better than Trump's Republican rivals by highlighting clear schisms in policy — on some of Trump's weakest and Clinton's strongest issues — and largely staying away from the mudslinging that has dominated the GOP primary.

"Part of the reason he destroyed his Republican challengers is because they agree with him on issues," she said.

She continued:

And he apparently struck a vein of entertainment among the Republican primary voters, so all they had left was kind of whining and insulting back and forth, as opposed to taking him on where I think a presidential election should, which is what you stand for, what you're saying, what the actual results of that would be, both at home and around the world.

Watch part of Clinton's interview below:

Clinton ticked off the examples of the Trump comments and proposals she'd look to emphasize, including when Trump claimed the Mexican government sends "rapists" and criminals into the US, when he suggested Sen. John McCain was not a "war hero," and when he proposed a ban on Muslim tourists and immigrants entering the US.

She suggested that she would attempt to speak on behalf of the groups that Trump's inflammatory rhetoric has sometimes targeted.

"I think you have to stand up to a bully," she said.

She continued:

But I'm not concerned about what he says about me. That doesn't matter to me. I'm going to stand up for immigrants. I'm going to stand up for American Muslims who are you working hard in this country that they love and consider their own. I'm going to stand up for other women. I'm going to stand up for the right to choose.

"Maybe he's just never dealt with somebody who's not particularly impressed by his carrying on. But I'm not," she added. "So I'm going to stay focused on what's at stake in this election."

Clinton laid out two clear differences on foreign and domestic policy that served as an early indicator of potential general-election contrasts.

One contrast came this week on the issue of abortion. Trump received criticism from all sides after he initially said that women should face some form of "punishment" for obtaining abortions if the practice were to be made illegal. Most anti-abortion activists believe the doctors or people providing abortions should be punished in the case of a future ban.

Trump quickly walked back that statement, instead aligning himself with the more mainstream Republican position. But Clinton said she was unconvinced at his reversal and took the opportunity to light into her Republican counterpart Thursday.

"So he tried to walk it back, but I think you have to take him at his word," she said. "And I think what we heard was a very unvarnished view that he has, and I for one have been very vocal in criticizing him and criticizing the other Republicans who are now embarrassed that he said what they all believe."

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Business Insider

Clinton also went further in attacking Trump's foreign policy, offering a biting critique of Trump's worldview.

She noted two of Trump's pronouncements that have drawn scrutiny in recent days: his dismissal of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance as "obsolete" and his suggestion that, as president, he could allow Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for an ease in US defense commitments to the countries.

Clinton also said she didn't trust Trump to lead the US military.

"His suggestions are not only offensive but, in certain cases, dangerous and sometimes even illegal, like his dismissal of the laws of the United States international law when it comes to torture," she said.

Part of Clinton's aim in hitting Trump on policy and avoiding simple labeling likely stems from their most direct clash in the headlines this election cycle. Clinton faced weeks of critical headlines about her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and his history with women, after she accused Trump of exhibiting a "penchant for sexism."

Trump responded by pinning much of his focus on Hillary Clinton for a period, accusing her husband of having a "terrible record of women abuse."

More recently, as the two have become the respective dominant frontrunners in each party's primary process, Trump has aimed an increasing amount of fire at Clinton — including last week, when he attempted to dub her as "incompetent Hillary."

For her part, Clinton described Trump as "an equal-opportunity insulter."

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Originally published