Traditional GOP ‘ bump’ af­ter ter­ror­ism may elude Trump

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Heidi M. Przy­byla

The Or­lando shoot­ing is scram­bling 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion pol­i­tics but not nec­es­sar­ily in the way ter­ror­ism wor­ries nor­mally do.

Amer­i­cans his­tor­i­cally have fa­vored Repub­li­cans to deal with ter­ror­ism threats, and Don­ald Trump seeks to ex­tend his party’s traditional ad­van­tage.

The real es­tate mogul is dou­bling down on a pro­posed tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims and es­ca­lat­ing his at­tacks on Pres­i­dent Obama, even spec­u­lat­ing that per­haps Obama doesn’t want to stop ter­ror­ism.

Hil­lary Clin­ton, who has called for na­tional unity in re­sponse to the at­tack, po­ten­tially neu­tral­ized one of the Repub­li­can Party’s big­gest talk­ing points in crit­i­ciz­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion by us­ing the words “rad­i­cal Is­lamism.”

“By us­ing that phrase, she’s not go­ing to be boxed in the way Pres­i­dent Obama let him­self be boxed in,” said Larry Sa­bato, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia’s Cen­ter for Pol­i­tics. In a speech Mon­day in Cleve­land, Clin­ton strongly rep­ri­manded the Saudis and Kuwaitis for fund­ing ter­ror­ism, a sign of her will­ing­ness to strike a more hawk­ish tone than she did in the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

Her re­sponse, par­tic­u­larly when com­pared with Trump’s, may blunt any po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage the pre­sump­tive GOP nom­i­nee may have oth­er­wise gained, an­a­lysts said. The re­newed em­pha­sis on ter­ror­ism highlights her record as the na­tion’s for­mer top diplo­mat and as a U. S. sen­a­tor from New York af­ter the Sept. 11 ter­ror at­tacks.

Trump posted on Twit­ter that he ap­pre­ci­ated “the con­grats for be­ing right on rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.”

“No­body plays a good hand worse than Don­ald Trump,” Sa­bato said. “The fact that he would tweet out how this tragedy ben­e­fited him, it just tells you he has no real sense of what a pres­i­dent does and how a pres­i­dent does it. It’s shock­ing, re­ally.”

The com­bi­na­tion of Trump’s re­sponse and Clin­ton’s de­ci­sion to dis­tance her­self from Obama may negate the Repub­li­can Party’s traditional po­lit­i­cal ad­van- tage in the aftermath of ter­ror­ism, said John Hu­dak, a se­nior fel­low in gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

“This is­sue could cut both ways for the Trump cam­paign,” Hu­dak said. “Some will buy into his ag­gres­sive rhetoric on the is­sue fa­vor­ing Mus­lim bans. For oth­ers, fear, worry and skep­ti­cism about Trump’s se­ri­ous­ness and readi­ness to lead may push peo­ple away from him.”

Clin­ton said that the U. S.- led coali­tion in Syria and Iraq has made gains in the past month and that the United States should ramp up the air cam­paign. She called for re­vis­it­ing U. S. gun laws, in­clud­ing those that al­low sus­pected ter­ror­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers on the FBI’s no- fly list to legally pur­chase as­sault weapons.

In her speech in Cleve­land, she crit­i­cized the Saudis and Kuwaitis for al­low­ing fund­ing to flow to “rad­i­cal” schools and mosques “that have set too many young peo­ple on a path to­ward ex­trem­ism.”

It was a stronger de­nun­ci­a­tion of Arab na­tions than she is­sued in the aftermath of shoot­ings in San Bernardino, Calif.

Trump con­tin­ued to push his Mus­lim ban. He es­ca­lated his at­tacks on Obama, say­ing on NBC’s

To­day that maybe the pres­i­dent “doesn’t want to get it.”


Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks in Cleve­land on Mon­day.

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