By Jennifer Jacobs and Kevin Cirilli
June 13, 2016
Donald Trump delivered what his campaign billed as a "major" terrorism speech, striking a serious tone in the wake of the Orlando massacre that at first prompted the presumptive Republican nominee to issue a series of self-congratulatory tweets.
After a moment of silence to mourn the victims of the attack, Trump expressed sympathies with the LGBT community.
"It's a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation," he said. "It’s an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.”
He also faulted lax screening of immigrants, saying the U.S. allowed the shooter's family to come here, and vowed to halt immigration from areas with a proven history of terrorism.
Criticizing Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, he said that her opposition to a ban on Muslims entering the country while saying she strongly backed LGBT communities suggested that she was having 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 suppress these community," Trump said. "How does this kind of immigration make our country better?"
He also excoriated President Obama for failing to form the alliances needed to counter the terror threat against the U.S.
"America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism, pretty much like we did with communism during the Cold War," Trump said. "We tried it President Obama's way doesn't work. He gave the world his apology tour and we got ISIS."
For Monday's address to about 100 people at St. Anselm College's Institute of Politics in New Hampshire, Trump is using a set of Teleprompters in an attempt to speak more deliberately in formal settings.
The speech wasn't the one he planned to give last week, when he promised to talk about “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” Trump decided to recalibrate after a lone U.S.-born Islamic State sympathizer opened fire in an Orlando gay club early Sunday morning, using a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun to kill 49 people and injure 53.
The rampage, the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history, quickly spilled over into the presidential race, reigniting debate over three hot buttons issues: gun control, gay rights and terrorism.
Trump first reacted by calling the incident “horrific,” then kicked up a controversy by accepting congratulations from fans on Twitter Sunday for “being right about Islamic terrorism” by previously calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. During a Fox News appearance on Monday morning, Trump called for mosque surveillance, saying American Muslims know who is radicalized and “if they don’t turn them in, we are never going to be able to get along.” He said “we have to really increase the bombing” and suggested knocking out Islamic State internet capabilities.
A short time before Trump spoke, Clinton delivered an address on dealing with the threat of terrorism that was designed to present a contrast to Trump's approach. She said the U.S. must bolster law enforcement and intelligence gathering, enact tougher gun laws to keep military-style weapons out of circulation and deepen cooperation with allies to stem the flow of money, propaganda and fighters across borders.
She ended with her own call for national unity.
“I remember how it felt on the day after 9/11” when the country rallied together around a “sense of common purpose," she said. “It is time to get back to the spirit of those days, the spirit on 9/12.”
Earlier in the day, she blasted Trump as “dangerous,” a major theme of her campaign against him.
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