AAA  Sep. 30, 2016 1:48 PM ET
Clinton talks public service in Florida
 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES By CATHERINE LUCEY
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves during a campaign stop in Fort Pierce, Fla., Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Hillary Clinton steered clear of the latest maelstrom around Donald Trump as she gave a speech in Florida on Friday focused on enhancing public service opportunities.

Speaking in Fort Pierce, the Democratic presidential candidate avoided naming her Republican opponent, though she criticized him for a "strongman approach" and said he was unlikely to embrace national service as a priority.

The speech came on a day when Trump dominated the news with a slew of Twitter attacks on a former beauty pageant winner, questioning her sexual history and whether Clinton helped her become a citizen.

The controversy surrounding Trump's tweets shows the challenge Clinton faces as she seeks to give voters a more uplifting message — and a reason to vote for her, not just against Trump.

Clinton acknowledged some might question her choice of subject matter.

"Some might say well hey my gosh, you've only got 39 days to go, why aren't you out there beating up on your opponent and doing everything to get the vote out and all the rest of it," Clinton said. "Well, I'll do that...But I've been thinking about this for a long time."

Campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Trump's behavior "backfires on him." She added that they will "run our campaign on two tracks, there is a positive message she is delivering, but she is also going to call him out."

Palmieri said Clinton would address Trump's comments about 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado later in the day. She said Clinton did not help Machado become a citizen.

In the first presidential debate, Clinton noted Trump's mockery of Machado when Machado gained weight after winning the title. Trump denounced Machado in a television interview the next morning and resumed his attacks with the tweets Friday.

Clinton commented on her Twitter account: "What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?"

During her speech, Clinton detailed her plans to enhance service opportunities. She wants to triple the size of the AmeriCorps program, grow the Peace Corps and create a new national service reserve program.

Under her proposed service program, people would enroll, receive some training and then state and local leaders could call on their help during in natural disasters or emergency situations. Clinton wants to sign up 5 million people, focusing on those under 30.

Clinton argued that service had been a priority of Republicans and Democrats in the past, but "I don't think you'll hear anything about this from my opponent."

Associated Press
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