Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, responding to Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Istanbul, called for the United States to “defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world,” using a controversial term that many Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have argued wrongly links terrorism to the entire religion of Islam.
Clinton’s use of “radical jihadism” seemed to be a gesture toward presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has criticized Clinton in the past for avoiding the term.
Trump responded to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, this month with a self-congratulatory tweet for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
“If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam,’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency,” Trump said in a statement after the massacre.
In response, Clinton said she’s “happy to say” the phrases “radical Islamism” and “radical jihadism,” which she also has used discussing terrorism in the past.
Clinton’s unprompted use of the term on Tuesday suggests her campaign wants to move beyond the dispute and may be ceding ground to Trump.
Clinton has stopped short of using “radical Islam” or “radical Islamic terrorism” — terms often invoked by Trump and other Republicans in accusing Obama and Clinton of being weak on terrorism.
But Obama and Clinton have argued that the terms are misguided and may further galvanize terrorist groups like the Islamic State.
In a speech following the Orlando shooting, Obama called the GOP obsession over language a “political distraction” from the real problem.
“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?” Obama asked.
“The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.”
Here’s Clinton’s full statement:
Terrorists have struck again in the heart of one of our NATO allies — and all Americans stand united with the people of Turkey against this campaign of hatred and violence. Already, stories of heroism on the part of Turkish police are emerging, as their quick actions to confront the suspects may have prevented an even worse tragedy.
Today’s attack in Istanbul only strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world. And it reminds us that the United States cannot retreat. We must deepen our cooperation with our allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe to take on this threat. Such cooperation is essential to protecting the homeland and keeping our country safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Turkish people.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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