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Trump paints Clinton as "unhinged" to try and claw back from disaster week

After slipping in the polls and alienating Republican insiders, the presidential nominee is trying a new tactic: Hitting his opponent with the same accusations lobbed at him, but harder.
August 7, 2016, 9:00pm
Trump addressing the Republican convention (Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Donald Trump has a new line of attack: Not only is his opponent Hillary Clinton a criminal, she's also mentally unhinged and perhaps not even human.

It was a rough post-convention week for the self-described billionaire and Republican presidential nominee. Now he's pulling out all the stops.

The week began with the lingering feud between Trump and the parents of Humayun Khan, a decorated war hero killed in Iraq, which further alienated some of the biggest names in the Republican party and created a serious issue for the campaign, which could not muster support from the top brass in the controversy.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain refused to get behind Trump's stance, and he responded by dallying over whether he would endorse their runs for re-election. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 13 percent of voters approved of how Trump handled the entire fiasco. A Politico caucus found that 70 percent of Republicans in key battleground states were secretly hoping that Trump would drop out of the race entirely.

So perhaps it doesn't come as too much surprise that after such a week, polls are favoring Clinton by an increasingly wide margin. Among the alarming numbers for the Trump campaign: In Philadelphia, the biggest city in an important swing state, suburbs that used to vote Republican for president now are for Clinton, with Trump an abysmal 40 points behind.

Related: The former KKK leader David Duke is '100 percent behind Trump'

Trump's main takeaway from the DNC was that people had been nasty about him. For example, former speechwriter to Reagan and Republican Doug Elmets spoke at the convention, and described the property tycoon as a "petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality star who will coddle tyrants and alienate allies." Because of the nastiness, Trump vowed to his supporters that the gloves were coming off, and there would be "no more Mr. Nice Guy."

"Unstable Hillary Clinton," Trump bellowed, to the delight of the crowd in Windham, New Hampshire, on Saturday. "You saw that when she short-circuited? She literally had a short circuit in the brain. She's got problems. If we had real people this would be a real problem for her. I think that the people of this country don't want somebody who's going to short circuit… not as your president."

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Ahead of the rally, Trump unveiled his new campaign video that shows Clinton as a malfunctioning robot that eventually goes haywire, with sparks flying out of her mouth and steam coming out of her head.

"She's not fit… she has bad judgement. She lacks the temperament," Trump said in New Hampshire, picking up one of the main lines of attack used against him — Clinton has spoken about Trump's temperament before. He turned that exact word against her. "I have a great temperament. I have a winning temperament!"

"She is a totally unhinged person," Trump added. "She's unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her."

Anybody whose mind 'SHORT CIRCUITS' is not fit to be our president! Look up the word 'BRAINWASHED.'

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)August 6, 2016

Related: Trump's economic team includes the billionaire who bet against US housing market

This week, Trump's mental health has been a genuine talking point of the election, prompting Karen Bass, a Democratic congresswoman from California, to even launch a petition urging Republicans to require their candidate to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. "His impulsiveness and lack of control over his own emotions are of concern," Bass wrote. "It is our patriotic duty to raise the question of his mental stability."

Unsurprisingly, Trump really wants people to stop talking about his erratic behavior and get the focus back on Clinton.

The attention to the inner workings of Trump's mind was so great this week that the American Psychiatric Association felt compelled to issue a statement reminding its members that it is inappropriate to make psychiatric diagnoses from a distance, especially of someone who is not one's patient. "The unique atmosphere of this year's election cycle may lead some to want to psychoanalyze the candidates, but to do so would not only be unethical, it would be irresponsible," the APA said.

The APA mentioned "the Goldwater Rule" — named for Barry Goldwater, the senator, businessman and Republican presidential candidate in 1964, whose bullish ways and questionable morals have often earned him a comparison to Trump. During Goldwater's election, Fact magazine published a survey that asked more than 12,000 psychiatrists to respond with whether they thought Goldwater was fit to be president. The majority of those who responded stated that they thought Goldwater was not.