[WASHINGTON] Hillary Clinton on Tuesday targeted her White House rival Donald Trump's very rationale for being a competent president, painting the provocative billionaire as a "dangerous" and manipulative businessman who would sink the US economy.
The Democratic flagbearer's comprehensive condemnation of Mr Trump's business dealings came as the presumptive Republican nominee revealed unprecedented financial deficits heading into his general election push, the latest of several setbacks and self-inflicted wounds that have plunged his campaign into disarray.
Mrs Clinton piled on in her speech in Ohio, an important swing state, where she argued that Mr Trump's lack of a plan to bring back manufacturing and other jobs could yank the nation back into recession.
"We can't let him bankrupt America like we are one of his failed casinos," she thundered in Columbus. "We can't let him roll the dice with our children's futures."
By laying into Mr Trump's corporate empire, Mrs Clinton aimed to disarm her rival's potent claim that he can translate his business acumen into Oval Office success.
"He's written a lot of books about business. They all seem to end at chapter 11," she quipped, referring to the US legal code that addresses bankruptcy and reorganisation.
She claimed Mr Trump had refused to pay some workers their due and had his own products manufactured overseas - moves she argued punished hard-working Americans.
He also "made a fortune filing bankruptcies and stiffing his creditors" in the process, leaving hundreds out of people out of work, Mrs Clinton said.
"In America, we don't begrudge people being successful, but we know they shouldn't do it by destroying other people's dreams."
Despite his long track record as a businessman, "it turns out he's dangerous there, too", Mrs Clinton said.
"Just like he shouldn't have his finger on the button," she added, referring to the US nuclear arsenal, "he shouldn't have his hands on our economy". "Donald Trump's ideas about the economy and the world will cause millions of Americans to lose their jobs," Mrs Clinton said.
Mr Trump returned fire as Mrs Clinton spoke, arguing that she "surged" the trade deficit with China by 40 per cent while serving as America's top diplomat, a move he said cost Americans "millions of jobs".
In a bid to go on offense, Mr Trump announced he would deliver a speech on Wednesday addressing "the failed policies and bad judgment of crooked Hillary Clinton". But the latest news cycle unquestionably has been unkind to the real estate tycoon.
He fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday, seeking a reboot as he prepares to battle with Mrs Clinton whose campaign is well ahead of Mr Trump's in terms of finances and organisation.
Mr Trump has been hammered for making controversial statements after the Orlando massacre, including about Muslims, and for saying it would have been a "beautiful sight" if more people at the Florida club - where drinks flowed - were armed in order to shoot back at the attacker.
His numbers have slid in several polls, and Republican leaders have continued to express ambivalence about their presumptive nominee.
The latest clash comes amid revelations that Mr Trump's campaign war chest lags woefully behind Mrs Clinton's.
Mr Trump has just US$1.3 million in cash on hand, according to reports filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission.
Mrs Clinton's campaign by contrast had US$42 million as of May 31, its report showed.
Mr Trump insisted he could ply his own campaign with "unlimited" funds.
"If need be, there could be unlimited 'cash on hand' as I would put up my own money, as I have already done through the primaries, spending over US$50 million," he said in a statement.
He also said his campaign was prepared to embrace a new tone as it geared for battle with Mrs Clinton.
"I think it's time now for a different kind of a campaign" than the lean operation that helped win the primary race, Mr Trump told Fox News late on Monday as he justified Mr Lewandowski's departure.
Mr Trump also brushed off his difficulty in earning Republican leadership support, telling NBC he might not even need their blessing.
"I may be better winning it the opposite way than the more traditional way," he said.
But a revolt of sorts appeared to be brewing at next month's Republican National Convention.
As many as 400 of the party's 2,472 delegates who formally elect the Republican nominee have expressed support for a movement to stop Mr Trump, according to the Washington Post.
Mr Trump meanwhile met Tuesday with about 1,000 evangelical Christians in an effort to win over the crucial voting bloc.
"He came across as reasonable, not reckless," Catholic Vote president Brian Burch was quoted by Time magazine as saying.
Mr Trump's campaign also announced an evangelical executive advisory board, featuring prominent conservative religious figures including psychologist and author James Dobson, who has courted controversy over his strong position against gays.