Three dominant issues in the U.S. election campaign — Islamist terrorism, gun control, and the rights of homosexuals and transgender people —are fused in the debate following the > Orlando terror strike and presidential candidates sought to frame it in a fashion suitable for their respective narratives.
Republican Donald Trump focused on radical Islam, marginally mentioning gay rights and Democrat Hillary Clinton spoke about terrorism without mentioning Islamism and calling for gun control measures in responses to the Sunday carnage of 50 people at an LGBT club. Both were expected to make more detailed speeches later on Monday, on the terror strike.
The incident will likely dominate the next five months of campaign.
Trump slams Obama Mr. Trump congratulated himself in a tweet, stating, “appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”. Mr. Trump also challenged President Barack Obama and Ms. Clinton to use the term “radical Islam”. “President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency,” the candidate said in a statement.
Bringing the shooter’s father also into the picture — Mr. Trump has repeatedly argued for punitive measures against families of terrorists, like Israel does — Mr. Trump reiterated his earlier call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and a freeze on asylum programmes. News reports said the shooter’s father had supported the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pushing the notion that Muslims are unfit to be in America, Mr. Trump cited a Pew study that said 99 per cent of Afghans supported the Sharia.
‘Protect all Americans’ “[O]ur nation was attacked by a radical Islamic terrorist… If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the U.S.,” Mr. Trump said, adding: “We need to protect all Americans, of all backgrounds and all beliefs, from radical Islami[st] terrorism, which has no place in an open and tolerant society. radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans.”
Mr. Trump has been more liberal than his Republican colleagues on gay rights — his club in Florida was one of the first to open to gays — but he has been trying to appease the evangelical stream within the party base by sounding more conservative. He has said marriage can be only between a man and a woman, but simultaneously also argued that transgender people might be allowed to use whatever bathrooms they choose. Anti-gay Christian conservatives now find themselves on the same side as the Orlando terrorist. But on guns, Mr. Trump has been a hawk — he has argued that one way to counter terror is to have everyone carrying a gun. A day before Orlando also, Mr. Trump blamed the tough gun laws in Paris for its vulnerability to terror.
Ms. Clinton called for redoubling “efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad”. “It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values,” she said. “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear,” she told the LGBT community and called for measures to keep “guns like the ones used out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals.”