CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton called for unity, outreach to Muslims and the passage of gun-control measures in the wake of Sunday’s terror attack in Orlando, while also rebuking and contrasting her approach to that of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
An hour later, Trump furthered that contrast. He intensified his call for banning immigration to the U.S. by Muslims or by people who come from regions that terrorists in past attacks have called home, while also attacking Clinton.
The two candidates used campaign events in swing states as venues for their first public appearances since Sunday’s shootings in Orlando. The killing of 49 at a gay nightclub marks the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The shooter pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State during the attack.
“This is a moment when all Americans need to stand together. No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades,” Clinton said, in a speech at a Cleveland company that makes military helmets and other safety equipment. “Now we have to steel our resolve to respond.”
Trump’s speech in New Hampshire included a moment of silence for the Orlando victims, a pledge of solidarity with the city’s LGBT community and a condemnation of the attack as “a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.”
But most of his remarks were a fiery defense of his approach to fighting terrorism. He raised his voice at times to make his points. He attacked Clinton by name — something she avoided doing — and strayed from his prepared remarks.
“Clinton wants radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country. They enslave women and they murder gays. I don’t want them in our country,” Trump said. He blamed the country’s immigration policies for the Orlando shooter’s presence in the U.S.
“The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here,” Trump said.
Clinton’s speech attacked this sort of immigration policy as essentially helping to encourage people to join radical groups, instead of stopping terrorism.
“We should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them,” she said. “Inflammatory, anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans … from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims, who love freedom and hate terror.”
Americans must fight “radical jihadists” at home, Clinton said, by reaching out to Muslims who can help prevent people from adopting the ideas apparently accepted by the Orlando shooter. Trump also called for Muslims in the U.S. to help officials stop terrorism, without giving more detail.
Clinton rebuked not only Trump’s ideas, but also his decision to tout them in the wake of a terror attack in the first place.
“Today is not a day for politics,” Clinton said, before making clear swipes at Trump, without uttering his name.
“We are not a land of winners and losers,” she said. “This has always been a country of ‘we,’ not ‘me.’ ”
Like Trump, Clinton called for a major policy change: restrictions on gun purchases, a proposal that drew ovations from the Cleveland crowd. People shouldn’t be able to avoid background checks by buying guns at shows or online, she said, and people on no-fly lists or suspects on terrorist watch lists shouldn’t be allowed “to just go and buy a gun.”
Clinton and Trump have had markedly different responses to the Orlando attacks.
On Sunday, Clinton tweeted condolences toward those affected by “this horrific act” and said she was waiting for more information. Trump tweeted there had been a “really bad shooting” in Orlando, then tweeted he was praying for victims and families. By the afternoon, a Trump tweet called for President Obama to resign if he didn’t use the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” In another tweet, Trump said: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”
A statement he released later reiterated his stance on Muslim travel to the U.S. and accused Clinton of planning to “dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East.”
“Americans from all walks of life rallied together with a sense of common purpose on Sept. 12,” she said.
She also cited President Bush’s trip to an Islamic center after 9/11.
“It is time to get back to the spirit of those days — the spirit of 9/12,” Clinton said.