Clinton, Trump Deliver Contrasting Visions in Orlando Response

How Will the Orlando Massacre Affect Trump-Clinton Race?
  • Democrat Clinton urges gun laws, coordination with allies
  • Trump calls for slashing immigration, end to ‘nation building’

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Monday presented sharply contrasting visions, in style and substance, of how the U.S. should respond to Sunday’s deadly shooting rampage by a suspected Islamic State sympathizer, each warning that the other would further endanger the country.

QuickTake How the U.S. Elects Its Presidents

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called for restrictions on the sales of military-style firearms that make “lone wolf” terrorist attacks easier, tighter coordination of domestic security agencies and a stepped up campaign by the U.S. and its allies to stem the recruitment by extremist groups and the cross-border flow of fighters. She said Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric hinders the fight against terrorism.

Trump, delivering what his campaign billed as a “major” speech on national security, said he would use executive authority to halt immigration from countries where extremists find sanctuary while blaming the policies of Clinton and President Barack Obama for allowing the rise of Islamic State. He vowed that if elected president, the U.S. would engage in “no more nation building. It’s never going to work.”

They both spoke after 49 people were killed by the gunman armed with a military-style semi-automatic who opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. The attack has reframed the debate in the presidential race.

Clinton outlined a three-pronged approach to confronting the terrorism threat on U.S. soil. She said the U.S. and its allies must dismantle the networks that move money, propaganda and fighters across borders. In the U.S. she said there must be better coordination among law enforcement at the state and local level to identify radicalized individuals.

Clinton said she would make a priority of stopping “lone wolf” terrorists by creating a group of federal and local officials and private industry participants to develop ways to track potentially radicalized individuals and counter extremist propaganda. While the gunman who opened fire in the Orlando club is dead, “the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” she said.

She drew extended applause from her audience in Cleveland with her call for reinstituting and assault weapons ban and preventing those on terrorist watch list from being able to buy weapons.

“We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war,” Clinton said. “That may not stop every shooting or every terrorist attack, but it will stop some and it will save lives and it will protect our first responders.”

About an hour later at St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics in New Hampshire, Trump made a direct appeal to the LGBT community, a group he largely ignored during his primary campaign, in the wake of the attack at the gay club in Orlando. Referring to Clinton’s support for Muslim immigration despite the anti-LGBT values of the societies some of those immigrants come from, Trump accused her of trying to have it “both ways.”

“She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress them,” Trump said.

But even as Trump opened door to one group, he closed the door on another, outlining a case against Muslims inside the country and out, broadly casting them as a potential danger because they’re either tied to radical Islamic terrorism or are choosing to shield terrorists.

“We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer,” Trump said, referring to the Orlando gunman, who was born in New York to immigrants from Afghanistan.

He also derided calls by Clinton and Obama for tougher gun control.

“Her plan is to disarm law abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns,” Trump said. “No good. Not going to happen, folks.”

Clinton has not advocated a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Trump originally planned to use his speech Monday in New Hampshire to discuss, as Trump put it, “all of the things that have taken place with” Clinton and her husband, ex-President Bill Clinton. He still attacked Hillary Clinton, but recalibrated his theme after Sunday’s rampage reignited three hot-button issues: gun rights, gay rights, and terrorism.

Clinton sought to highlight contrasts with Trump, speaking in calm and deliberate tones about a broad approach to combating extremism. The roots of terrorism must be attacked “with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values,” she said.

The Orlando attack crossed many of the trip lines in U.S. society, a mass shooting carried out by a gunman inspired by radical ideology who targeted gays.

The gunman called 911 moments before the shooting and pledged loyalty to Islamic State, according to the FBI. Obama said at the White House Monday no direct evidence has yet surfaced that the gunman was directed by an extremist group or was part of a larger plot. Family members described 29-year-old Omar Mateen, the U.S.-born son of an Afghan immigrant, as mentally unstable and driven by anti-gay sentiments.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE