Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, should “drop out” of the presidential race if she can’t say radical Islam led to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that left 50 people dead.
He sent out a press release on Sunday afternoon.
“Our nation was attacked by a radical Islamic terrorist. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11, and the second of its kind in 6 months. My deepest sympathy and support goes out to the victims, the wounded, and their families,” he said.
“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump added. “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,” Trump added. “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.”
A number of media outlets and celebrities criticized Trump for a tweet he sent out earlier on Sunday.
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
“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” he wrote in the heavily derided tweet on Sunday. Users on Twitter said that his tweet was insensitive.
About an hour later, Trump appeared to clarify his comments on Facebook, saying that he doesn’t want congratulations.
He wrote: “While I greatly appreciate everybody congratulating me for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congratulations, I want toughness and vigilance. We must finally be smart!”
Trump’s comments on the shooting and how it ties into Islamic terrorism appear to be consistent with what he said last month.
“We have to be vigilant,” he told NBC in May following his Republican nomination. “We have to be strong. We have to see what’s going on.” On Friday, at a rally, Trump said that Clinton should “drop out” of the presidential race if she can’t say the words “radical Islam.”
Federal authorities described the shooting as an act of terrorism, while identifying the gunman as Omar Mateen, an American citizen with Afghan parents. Trump demanded that President Obama describe the shooting as “radical Islamic” terrorism. “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” Trump wrote on Twitter right before Obama addressed the matter. “If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”
Obama, in the statement, described it as an “act of terror” and a hate crime.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, initially responded on Sunday about the loss of lives.
On Facebook, she wrote, in part:
This was an act of terror. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are hard at work, and we will learn more in the hours and days ahead. 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 made a point about gun violence, saying the U.S. needs to “keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals.”
The gunman had been interviewed by the FBI on two terror-related cases, but both were closed, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ronald Hopper told reporters on Sunday.
“Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive,” Hopper told CNN. “So there was nothing to keep the investigation going.”
Mateen was interviewed in 2013 “when he made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties,” Hopper said. That was closed.
In 2014, the FBI interviewed him over alleged connections to an American suicide bomber.