Traditional GOP ‘ bump’ after terrorism may elude Trump
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.