CLEVELAND (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between terrorist organizations and the field of Republican candidates for president when it comes to their views on women, telling an Ohio audience her potential GOP rivals were pushing "out-of-date" policies.
"Now extreme views about women? We expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world," Clinton said.
"But it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out-of-date and out-of-touch policies," she added at a rally with 2,800 people in Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University. "They are dead wrong for 21st century America."
In her remarks, she did not mention any specific terrorist or militant groups, such as the Islamic State, which has held women as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria. Republicans swiftly accused the Democratic presidential front-runner of directly comparing the Republican presidential field to terrorists.
"For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Allison Moore. "She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush responded on Twitter: .@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong. Bush was referring to Planned Parenthood.
Clinton has defended Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists that show officials discussing how the organization sometimes provides fetal tissue to medical researchers.
The videos have prompted investigations by congressional committees and Republicans in Congress, and several states have sought to block government payments to the group.
Clinton, seeking to become the first woman to win the White House, said she took it "a little personal when they go after women," pointing to Republican efforts to cut access to women's health centers and opposition to abortion rights.
She specifically cited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, saying he "brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to health care and abortion."
Rubio said during the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month that he had long opposed abortion but disputed the notion from the moderator that he opposed abortion except in the case of rape and incest. He said he had never advocated those exceptions.
In the Senate, Rubio co-sponsored a 2013 bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and contained a number of exceptions, including cases of rape or incest that have been reported to law enforcement or where the mother's life is at risk.
Clinton also cited Bush's opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood. Bush said at a Colorado town hall this week that Planned Parenthood shouldn't "get a penny" because they weren't involved with women's health issues. Planned Parenthood offers a range of women's health services beyond abortion, including breast exams. He said as governor he expanded women's health programs through community-based organizations.
Clinton also turned her attention to home state Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, telling supporters he had banned state funding for some rape crisis centers because they sometimes referred women to other health facilities that provide abortion services.
As governor, Kasich signed a bill that funded rape crisis centers, but the bill kept the money from facilities that referred patients for abortions. He and fellow Ohio Republicans have imposed other restrictions involving abortions, including prohibiting the procedure in more cases and increasing regulatory hurdles making it harder for abortion providers to continue to operate. Since he took office in 2011, Ohio has seen the number of abortion providers trimmed in half.
Kasich's campaign shot back a statement, saying: "Ohio and our country deserves better than what Clinton is offering them. Hillary Clinton's trail of scandal is decades long, and only continues to worsen."
The exchanges came as Clinton sought to build support in Ohio, one of the nation's top general election battlegrounds, which Clinton carried in her unsuccessful 2008 primary bid against Barack Obama. Clinton has made issues such as equal pay for women, abortion rights and early childhood education a key part of her campaign this time and the stepped-up rhetoric against Republicans comes as she has battled criticism over her use of a private email address and server as secretary of state, and while Vice President Joe Biden considers a potential presidential campaign.
Thomas reported from Washington.