In both style and substance, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offered drastically different proposals Monday for stemming the threat of terrorism and gun violence that have Americans on edge following the deadly weekend attacks at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Trump focused heavily on the nation’s broken immigration system in his fiery address, although the Orlando shooter was born in the United States. The presumptive Republican nominee redoubled his call for temporarily banning Muslims from the United States, saying he would lift the ban once the government could “properly and perfectly” screen immigrants.
Going further, Trump said he would also “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies.” He did not specify what countries would be affected or whether the suspension would apply regardless of religion.
Clinton said she would prioritize stopping “lone wolf” attackers as president – those who may be radicalized without having direct contact or orders from a larger terror network. Overseas, the presumptive Democratic nominee called for ramping up the U.S. air campaign targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and pointedly called out U.S. partners in the region by name, saying Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar must stop their citizens from funding terrorism.
Clinton also vigorously reiterated her call for banning assault weapons, like one of the guns the Orlando shooter used.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” she said.
Clinton’s address was measured and sober. While she drew implicit contrasts with Trump, she never mentioned him by name, declaring, “Today is not a day for politics.”
Trump felt differently, hammering Clinton repeatedly in his remarks. He accused her of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment – in connection with her proposals for tougher gun laws – and said she can’t claim to be supportive of gays and lesbians when she supports allowing immigration from countries where they are discriminated against.
“Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community,” he said.
The businessman robustly defended the rights of gay and lesbian Americans, saying he would be a “better friend” to the community than Clinton. The assault at a gay nightclub was “an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity,” he said.
Trump’s embrace of gay and lesbian Americans was at odds with many in his own party, who oppose gay marriage and other legal protections.
The Orlando attacks were the worst mass shooting in American history, leaving 49 people dead and dozens more injured. Authorities say Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Muslim, was probably inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, though there was no evidence Monday that he had been directed by any network to carry out the attacks.
Trump said Mateen was “born an Afghan” despite having been born in New York. The shooter’s parents came to the U.S. from Afghanistan before he was born.
The Republican did not repeat suggestions he’d made in earlier television interviews that President Barack Obama may not be taking tougher action against terrorism because he sympathizes 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.”