CLEVELAND — 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candidates for president when it comes to their views on women, telling an audience her potential rivals were pushing outdated policies.
Clinton 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.
"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it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out of date and out of touch policies," she added at a rally in Cleveland. "They are dead wrong for 21st century America."
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."
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 centres and opposition to abortion rights.
She specifically cited Sen. Marco Rubio, saying he "brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to health care and abortion," and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood, a non-profit abortion provider.
Clinton also turned her attention to home state Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, telling supporters he had banned state funding for some rape crisis centres because they sometimes referred women to other health facilities that provide abortion services.
Kasich's campaign shot back in 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."
Clinton has made issues such as equal pay for women, abortion rights and early childhood education a key part of her campaign.
The former secretary of state has also 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.
Thomas reported from Washington.
Julie Carr Smyth And Ken Thomas, The Associated Press