From The Hill
In a pivotal speech for his presidential campaign, Donald Trump on Monday blamed lax immigration laws and political correctness for the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Trump said immigration policies advocated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and their refusal to identify “radical Islam” as the driving force behind the terror threat — led directly to the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 50 dead, including the shooter, and dozens more wounded.
The man identified as the gunman, a U.S. citizen born to Afghan parents, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while carrying out the assault, making it the most destructive terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
The carnage completely changed the political discussion, taking the controversy over Trump’s racially charged comments about a federal judge off the front page.
Reading from a teleprompter to an invitation-only crowd at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, the presumptive GOP nominee used the tragedy to highlight the central themes of his campaign: that the threats from legal and illegal immigration are not only weakening the United States economically, they are also hurting national security.
“We need to tell the truth about how radical Islam is coming to our shores,” Trump said in a speech that clocked in at a little longer than 33 minutes. “We are importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system.”
Trump’s speech came less than 48 hours after the carnage at Pulse, where club-goers had been celebrating Pride Month when a gunman began firing at 2 a.m. Sunday.
The shooter, who had previously been investigated by the FBI for terrorist ties, called 911 to pledge his allegiance to ISIS before carrying out the attacks. He was armed with a handgun and a rifle affixed with high-capacity magazines.
On Monday, Trump argued that the father of the killer, an Afghan immigrant, should never have been allowed entry into the U.S. to begin with.
He alleged that as secretary of State, Clinton had allowed tens of thousands of similarly dangerous immigrant refugees free passage into the U.S. from the most dangerous parts of the world, and warned that she would continue those policies if elected president.
Trump reiterated his support for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants entering the country and even went further, saying he would “suspend entry” into the country for anyone he deemed “detrimental to the interests or security of the United States.”
Trump said that, as president, he would exercise authority to ban immigrants coming from “areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.”
“The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to screen who we are bringing in,” the billionaire businessman said. “The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans.”
Trump extended his attacks against Obama and Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, beyond immigration, blaming them for weakening U.S. intelligence capabilities with policies that focus more on political correctness than keeping the nation safe.
And he slammed Clinton for focusing on implementing stricter gun laws following the shooting. Trump has argued that the death toll in Orlando would have been lower if the victims at the club had been armed.
“Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns,” Trump said. “She wants to take away Americans’ guns, then admit the very people who want to slaughter us.”
Trump is seeking to rebound from the rockiest stretch of his campaign.
He infuriated top Republican leaders last week for drawing attention to the Mexican heritage of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) described the comments as “textbook” racism, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Trump to get on message.
Trump needed to do well with Monday’s speech, which was initially to focus on Bill and Hillary Clinton.
After the violence in Orlando, though, the real estate magnate shifted to national security — and to themes and arguments he first raised after the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings.
In both cases, U.S. citizens pledged support to foreign terrorist groups before turning guns on fellow Americans.
Trump took a different tact in his speech than he had used in some tweets on Sunday, in which he took credit for describing the dangers of Islamic terrorism and immigration.
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