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A Tale of Two Candidates: Clinton, Trump Offer Very Different Reactions to Orlando Attack

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
The political parties' respective nominees-in-waiting, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, gave very different reactions to the Islamist shooting attack in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

Sunday, Americans got a brief glimpse of how the two parties' presidential nominees-in-waiting would react to Islamic terrorism, if they win the November general election.

Not surprisingly, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton offered two very different responses to the apparent Islamist attack in Orlando. And as a result, the situation is likely to have a profound impact on the rest of the election cycle.

Clinton said she joined Americans in praying for the victims of the attack, as well as their families and the first responders. She was quick to call it an "act of terror," but like President Obama, struggled to discuss the then-obvious ISIS connections.

"Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are hard at work, and we will learn more in the hours and days ahead," she said. "For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad.

"That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home. It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values."

Clinton also referenced the fact the shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, had targeted a nightclub that catered to LGBT clientele "during Pride Month." She had a special message to members of the "LGBT community."

"Please know that you have millions of allies across our country," she said. "I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America."

And like the president, she used the shooting as an opportunity to repeat her call for further curtailing of Second Amendment-protected rights. She said guns like the ones used in Orlando need to be "out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals."

"This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets," she said. "This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country."

Trump, on the other hand, quickly pointed out the Islamist terror connection. He also called it "disgraceful" that Democrats refused to utter the words "radical Islam," saying President Obama should resign and Hillary Clinton should drop out of the presidential race as a result.

"It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11, and the second of its kind in six months," he said. "My deepest sympathy and support goes out to the victims, the wounded and their families.

"In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words 'Radical Islam.' For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words 'Radical Islam' she should get out of this race for the presidency.

"If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen—and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can't afford to be politically correct anymore."

Trump also noted that Mateen's father, an immigrant from Afghanistan, has openly supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, and has declared himself a presidential candidate in his home country. He also pointed to a December report by Pew Research that indicated 99 percent of Afghanis support Sharia law, which he called "oppressive."

"We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year," he said. "Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.

"Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term—and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them or prevent the second generation from radicalizing."

Trump said the government needs to protect all Americans, "of all backgrounds and all beliefs," from radical Islamic terrorism. He said radical Islam "has no place" in an open and tolerant society.

"Radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans," he said. "I am going to be a president for all Americans, and I am going to protect and defend all Americans. We are going to make America safe again and great again for everyone."

Trump also suspended campaign activities for Monday, including a planned rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which his campaign said would be made up "in the near future." He instead announced a foreign policy and national security speech to be given at St. Anselm's College in the afternoon.


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