Hillary Clinton: I’m willing to call Orlando attack ‘radical Islamism’

Hillary Clinton said Monday she would be willing to call the Orlando attack an act of radical Islamist terror.

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say,” the presumptive Democratic nominee said in a CNN interview. “And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him. I have clearly said we — whether you call it ‘radical jihadism’ or ‘radical Islamism’ — I’m happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing.”

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump blasted both President Obama and Clinton for not immediately calling Sunday morning’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando an act of “radical Islam.” The attack, which left 50 dead, is the deadliest act of terror on U.S. soil since 9/11. Based on that omission, Trump called on Obama to step down from office and for Clinton to exit the race. In a Monday morning CBS interview, he said Clinton won’t use the term because she’s afraid of Obama’s Justice Department.

“She’s afraid to offend her boss because she doesn’t want to go jail,” Trump asserted, an apparent reference to Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the State Department.

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Both Clinton and Obama called the attack an act of terror and hate but stopped short of connecting it to “radical Islam” in their initial statements. Authorities have said the attacker declared his allegiance to ISIS when he started shooting, but it’s unclear if he’d had any contact with the group or if they helped him plan the attack.

Trump has called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, suggesting that such a ban could have prevented this weekend’s attack. However, the attacker, identified as Omar Mateen, was born in the U.S. and was an American citizen.

Clinton argued on CNN that Trump’s approach to the terrorism issue would undermine U.S. security.

“What I won’t do, because I think it is dangerous for our efforts to defeat this threat, is to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion,” she said. “That plays right into ISIS’ hands.”

That echoed Obama’s rhetoric on the issue. He has not referred to ISIS as the “Islamic State” since he plunged the U.S. military into an undeclared war against the group two years ago, on the reasoning that calling it a “state” glorifies the group. He also does not emphasize the group’s self-proclaimed religious purpose for the same reason.

ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” he said on Sept. 10, 2014. “And ISIL is certainly not a state.”

But that tactic is not politically popular on the right.

A February 2016 poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP wanted the next president to “speak bluntly … even if the statements are critical of Islam as a whole.”

For Democrats and independents who lean left, it was just 22 percent.

Clinton’s remarks highlighted how the frequently angry debate about the rhetoric of the war on terrorism has moved since the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes. Six days after those attacks, then President George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington to declared that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

While he is often remembered for blunt talk — wanting Osama bin Laden “dead or alive,” vowing victory in a “crusade” against terrorism — Bush worked hard throughout his presidency to convince Americans not to demonize Muslims.

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