PALO ALTO, Calif. (CN) - Democratic presidential candidate repeatedly used the words strong, smart and steady to describe her approach to defeat radical terrorism, in a 25-minute speech on counterterrosim delivered at Stanford University on Wednesday.
"Yesterday's attack in Brussels is the latest brutal reminder that our fight against ISIS and radical jihadist terrorism is far from finished," she told the approximately 120 people who crowded into the Bechtel Conference Center.
Clinton used the speech to not only burnish her foreign-policy credentials, but to draw sharp contrasts between herself and Republican candidates whom she portrayed as foolish and unqualified.
"Loose cannons tend to misfire," she said.
While acknowledging the threats posed by the Islamic State and affiliated terrorist organizations are legitimate and causes for concern, Clinton advocated for a more even-tempered and deliberate approach to vanquishing it.
"Walls will not protect us from this threat," Clinton said, a clear jab at Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who has promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
She characterized her opponents' reactions to the Brussels attacks as "bluster that alienates our partners and doesn't make us any safer," adding that the Islamic State and affiliated networks are nimble organizations that operate beyond traditional borders and use the Internet to recruit and run operations.
"When other candidates talk about building walls around America, I want to ask them: How high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out," Clinton said.
The former Secretary of State also skewered some of Republican candidate Ted Cruz's counterterrorism policy proposals, which he has reiterated in response to the Brussels attack.
"It would be a serious mistake to begin carpet-bombing populated areas into oblivion," Clinton said. "Proposing that doesn't make you sound tough, it makes you sound in over your head."
She further criticized notions that waterboarding and other forms of torture or routine surveillance of predominately Muslim neighborhoods will be effective mechanisms to defeat the Islamic State.
In an open support of President Barack Obama's present policy toward the Middle East, which critics have decried as weak and ineffective, Clinton said it would "be a serious mistake to stumble into another costly ground war in the Middle East."
Instead, she called for intensification of the aerial campaign against the Islamic State's "shrinking but sizeable" territory in Syria and Iraq. She criticized some banks for allowing illicit financial transactions that allow these networks to flourish. And the candidate called for more cooperation between Silicon Valley and the federal government to dismantle digital terrorist networks and track posts from extremist groups.
Clinton did not limit her comments to American policy, as she said strengthening alliances with European nations and their governments should be a central prong in counterterrorism campaigns. But she urged those partners to do more by investing in intelligence and defense.
She also called upon Europe to stop the flow of foreign fighters from the EU to the Middle East, saying their European passports make it easier for them to cross borders. European nations need more coordination as they are often unaware of each other's intelligence, and need to unify their border and develop a coast guard, Clinton said.
Clinton touted her own ability to be able to use American power and influence to bring about these changes, which she said will combine with other efforts to eventually defeat radical terrorism.
Clinton portrayed her Republican opponents as unqualified demagogues who are long on tough talk but short on substantive policy ideas, while presenting herself as someone who will bring a more long-term approach to countering terrorism.
In the fight against terrorism, patience and determination will win the day in the end, Clinton said.
"We are in it for the long haul, but that means we are going to work together and we are going to prevail," she said.
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