Charlotte, N.C. — Hillary Clinton spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte Monday morning, only days before she is scheduled to officially accept the Democratic nomination for president at her party's national convention in Philadelphia.
Her Republican rival, Donald Trump, was to speak in Winston-Salem later Monday and is scheduled to speak to the VFW on Tuesday.
Clinton struck a sober tone as she spoke to the veterans group, emphasizing both her experience in foreign policy and the responsibilities of the office.
"Americans are not just choosing a president. We are choosing a commander-in-chief," she said.
Early on in her speech, Clinton claimed the endorsement of Marine Gen. John R. Allen, a nod that is thought to help her burnish her credentials to lead the military.
She also referenced the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal that saw delayed care for veterans across the county and pledged to work to take care of returning soldiers.
"Like you, I was outraged by the VA scandals – people waiting weeks, even months, for things like wheelchairs and basic medications," Clinton said.
She said the problems that led, in some cases, to death were "inexcusable," but she resisted calls to turn over VA care to the private sector.
"We are not going to privatize the VA. We are going to reform it and make it work for every single veteran in America," she said.
She also pledged to support issues that are particularly key for the VFW, including improving care for women veterans and ending veteran homelessness.
Republicans marked the occasion by putting out a statement from state Sen. Ronald Rabin, R-Harnett, a retired U.S. Army colonel.
"There is no one less capable of serving as commander-in-chief than Hillary Clinton," Rabin said. "From her ludicrous claims that the VA scandal was not as 'widespread' as it was to putting our national security at risk and subsequently lying about it, Hillary Clinton has no business leading our military."
For her part, Clinton did not reference her opponent by name but did make references to things Trump has said on the campaign trail. Saying that she would lean on the advice of veterans and military leaders, Clinton said, "You will never hear me say I only listen to myself on national security."
She also referenced a Trump line that appears to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"One thing for certain you will not hear from me is praise for dictators and strongmen who have no love for America," Clinton said.
She also praised her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who serves on the Armed Services Committee.
"His son is actually deploying today to help defend our NATO allies in Europe," Clinton said of Kaine.
She also made reference to the fact she was the first woman nominated by a national party for president. "I'm still getting used to it myself," she said as a confused bit of reaction came from the audience.
Clinton wound up her speech by pledging that, "I will get up every single day in the White House doing everything I can to protect our country" and to ensure that men and women in uniform are treated with respect.