WASHINGTON – Donald Trump vowed Monday to impose a broad ban on immigration from areas of the world with a history of terrorism and suggested some Muslims in the United States are turning a blind eye to unfolding plots, as he outlined an aggressive response to the deadly attack in Orlando.
Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presidential rival, was more measured in her own remarks, warning that demonizing all Muslims for the actions of a few would only benefit extremist groups. She pointedly blamed American partners in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar – for not stopping terror funding emanating from their countries and called for tougher gun control legislation in the U.S., including outlawing assault weapons like one used by the Orlando shooter.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said. Though she drew implicit contrasts with Trump, she never mentioned him by name, saying “Today is not a day for politics.”
Trump clearly disagreed, criticizing Clinton harshly and often.
The two candidates’ dramatically different proposals – as well as their contrasting styles – underscored the clear choice Americans face in the November election. Democrat Clinton’s vision builds on President Barack Obama’s campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and expands on his gun control executive orders, while Republican Trump is calling for a drastically different national security posture.
Though the Orlando shooter was born in the U.S., Trump continued to propose sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration rules as the cornerstone of his anti-terror plan.
He redoubled his previous call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the U.S., saying that policy would stay in place until the government can “properly and perfectly” screen immigrants. Going further, he also said he would use presidential discretion to “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies.”
The businessman did not specify what countries would be affected or whether the suspension would apply regardless of religion. Trump’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests to clarify whether his new language would replace the proposed Muslim ban and whether it would apply to potential immigrants from countries like Ireland, Israel and Belgium that have faced attacks.
Clinton said such proposals would only make it more difficult for law enforcement to work with Muslim communities.
“Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans, as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country, hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror,” she said.
Trump pledged to protect all Americans “wherever they come from, wherever they were born.” But he repeatedly referred to Muslims in a negative context.
The Orlando shooter – 29-year-old Omar Mateen – was born in the United States, but Trump noted he was “born to Afghan parents who immigrated to the United States.” He said Muslim communities must turn over to law enforcement “people who they know are bad,” adding “they do know where they are.”
He also said gays and lesbians are often discriminated against in the Muslim world, and said Clinton could not claim to be an ally of the LGBT community if she supports immigration from such countries.
“Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community: Donald Trump with actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?” Trump said. However, the businessman has said he opposes gay marriage – the official position of the Republican Party – while Clinton and Democrats back same-sex unions.
The Republican did not repeat suggestions he’d made in earlier television interviews that Obama may not be taking tougher action against terrorism because he may sympathize with the perpetrators.
“He doesn’t get it or, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” Trump said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends.” ”It’s one or the other. And either one is unacceptable.“
Clinton said her anti-terror efforts would centre on identifying “lone wolf” attackers – those who may be radicalized but not connected to a broader network or carrying out plans on behalf of any group. Obama said Monday that the Orlando attacker appeared to fall into that category.
Clinton also reiterated her call for tougher gun control measures, a policy proposal that has been a centerpiece of her presidential campaign. In addition to her support for an assault weapons ban, she also said Americans should be able to agree that “if the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked.”
The FBI said Mateen had twice come to its attention, but the investigations did not reveal any definitive links to terror groups or plots. Mateen purchased at least two firearms legally within the past week or so, according to federal authorities.