Democratic rival Hillary Clinton warned against demonising Muslim Americans, offering a starkly different approach to national security as the two candidates clashed in speeches reacting to the slayings at a gay nightclub in which 49 people and the gunman were killed and 53 were wounded.
“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very strong, and we must attack it,” Clinton, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the November 8 election, said in a speech in Cleveland.
In New Hampshire, Trump said that, if elected, he would use executive authority to better control immigration, emphasising one of the main themes of his campaign.
He noted that shooter Omar Mateen, 29, had parents born in Afghanistan.
“I would use this power to protect the American people. When I’m elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats,” the wealthy businessman said.
Trump also challenged Clinton to explain why she is in favour of accepting refugees from the Syrian civil war, and said his policies would better protect American women, gays and lesbians, Jews and Christians.
“Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American,” Trump said.
“I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, and Jewish people are the targets of persecution and intimidation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.”
Trump also lashed out at President Barack Obama by questioning his motives for refusing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” in describing such attacks.
He argued that both the president and Clinton were unfit to lead the nation.
Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando early on Sunday, pledging loyalty to militant group Islamic State.
In proposals for dealing with threats of violence at home and abroad, Clinton called for increased efforts to remove Islamic State propaganda from the internet, more air strikes in the areas held by the militant group and better coordination with allies in the region.
She specifically called out three US allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait – for allowing its citizens to fund mosques and schools that train jihadists.
She also called for stricter gun control laws, reiterating prior calls to prohibit those on terrorism watch lists from buying guns.
She pointed out that while the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of Mateen as a possible threat, he was still able to legally purchase a gun.
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