By Jeremy Diamond
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Donald Trump responded Monday to the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 with a tough call to clamp down on Muslim immigration.
He also appeared to falsely claim that the perpetrator of the Orlando mass shooting was born outside the U.S., though he was born in New York to parents from Afghanistan, while blasting Hillary Clinton for policies that he alleged would only increase the threat of terror.
“We have to screen applicants to know whether they are affiliated with or supporting radical groups and beliefs,” Trump said. “We have to control the amount of future immigration in this country and we have to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee accused Clinton, his likely Democratic challenger, of espousing policies that will lead to “more radical Islamic immigration into this country.”
“She wants to take away Americans’ guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us,” Trump said.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee scrapped a long-planned speech Monday on the scandal-plagued past of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, instead addressing terrorism, immigration and other related policies after 49 people perished at a mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub on Sunday.
“This is a very dark moment in America’s history. A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation,” Trump said.
Trump said the attack was an “assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.”
Trump also claimed that the gunman’s parents expressed support for the Taliban and said the U.S. needs to better screen immigrants coming into the U.S.
Trump again expressed his support for his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
“Remember this, Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti gay, and anti American,” Trump said. “This is not just a national security issue, it’s a quality of life issue.”
Throughout his speech, Trump repeatedly made appeals to the LGBT community and accused Clinton of simply giving lip service to protecting a community that Trump argued would be damaged by the former secretary of state’s calls to allow more Syrian refugees into the U.S.
“She can’t have it both ways. She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress these same communities,” Trump said.
Trump suggested that he was in fact the “real friend” of the LGBT community.
Trump has frequently referred to past terror attacks from the campaign trail.
After terrorists launched coordinated attacks in Paris last November, Trump quickly deplored the city for having “the toughest gun laws in the world,” used the moment to upbraid President Barack Obama’s ISIS strategy and slammed the idea of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.
Terrorists struck in San Bernardino, California, the next month and five days later Trump issued an even bolder proposal, calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Trump’s speech Monday here at St. Anselm College is not the first time he has sought to capitalize politically on a terror attack.
In each instance, Trump sought to project both strength and a lack of concern for the reaction to his provocative rhetoric, calculating that both would help him rise in the polls during the Republican primary. Indeed, a majority of Republican voters agreed with Trump’s call to temporarily ban all foreign Muslims from entering the United States.
“Whenever there’s a tragedy, everything goes up, my numbers go way up because we have no strength in this country,” Trump said on CNN after the San Bernardino shooting. “We have weak, sad politicians.”
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, Trump is testing that same theory with the general electorate.
Already on Sunday the billionaire asked on Twitter “when will we get tough, smart & vigilant,” said he appreciated “the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism” and called the Orlando attack “just the beginning.”
“Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban,” Trump said of his proposed ban on Muslims in a tweet Sunday afternoon. “Must be tough.”
As he made the rounds of the morning newscasts, Trump doubled down on controversial policies for dealing with terror that he laid out during the Republican primary.
Trump again focused on his proposal to ban Muslims and reject Syrian refugees. He also insisted that more guns in the hands of civilians could have mitigated the tragedy.
Critics of Trump’s policies, however, have pointed out that the perpetrator of the Orlando massacre was born in the U.S. and that there was an armed security guard at the nightclub.