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Hillary Clinton to hit Trump on women’s issues in first speech as presumptive nominee

Clinching the Democratic Party nomination, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton greets supporters at her primary-night victory party in New York on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

In her first speech as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton will criticize Donald Trump’s positions on women’s issues, a signal to the Democratic base that she intends to anchor the general election in the same slate of progressive issues she campaigned on in the primary.

Clinton is expected to make the case that for women, a Trump presidency is “a risk we just can't take” according to a Clinton aide. As she has on other issues -- most notably in a major foreign policy speech last week -- Clinton will highlight Trump’s own words as evidence.

A Trump presidency would be “frightening” when it comes to rights, Clinton plans to say during a speech at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund membership event in Washington on Friday.

On policy, she will highlight not only his opposition to abortion and to Planned Parenthood, but also his statements about equal pay, paid family leave, and the factors he would consider in a Supreme Court nominee.

That abortion and reproductive issues will be at the core of Clinton’s argument against the presumptive Republican nominee is both a sign of the changing views of Americans and also of the perception among Democrats that Trump is particularly vulnerable on this front.

Clinton and her allies say that they believe they could create a historic gender gap in November with Trump as Clinton’s rival.

Among women, 51 percent view Clinton favorably, while 47 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her. Trump has a 32 percent favorability rating among women and an eye-popping 67 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll last month.

That same poll found a yawning gap between Trump and Clinton in terms of who was most trusted to handle issues that concern women: 66 percent said Clinton while 23 percent said Trump. And on abortion, Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in June 2015 found that 58 percent of Americans believe the procedure should be legal in all or most cases.

The speech also comes at a time when Clinton is working to unify the party as the primary comes to a close, and it is intended to serve as a signal to Democrats that there will be no general election pivot to the center.

It comes days after Clinton marked the historic nature of her candidacy and her likely nomination as the first female nominee of a major U.S. political party in a primary-night speech on Tuesday. In it, she placed herself squarely among generations of women leaders, including former Texas governor Ann Richards, whose daughter Cecile Richards serves as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Clinton and other party leaders have now launched an aggressive effort to bring their contentious primary to a close. Her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held meetings in Washington with several high-ranking Democrats, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

But the day ended with Clinton securing the endorsement of Obama and Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts and a leader of the progressive ranks of the Democratic Party.

There will be more work to be done to convince Sanders supporters to back her in the general election. In making the case against Trump on issues that were once considered too polarizing, Clinton is signaling to Sanders's supporters and other Democrats that she will not shy away from the party’s core principal issues.

The aide said that Clinton plans to continue to emphasize progressive issues – especially those impacting women and families-- that have long been her convictions, even before she was in public life.