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Presidential candidates hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit to discuss the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., and the ideological divide on the topics of terrorism and gun control was in stark partisan relief.
Hillary Clinton said the United States needs to enact gun laws that make it harder for terrorists to get weapons.
“What happened in San Bernardino was a terrorist act,” Clinton said on ABC’s ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos.’” “We have to up our game against terrorists abroad and at home, and we have to take account of the fact that our gun laws and the easy access to those guns by people who shouldn’t get them — mentally ill people, fugitives, felons — and the Congress continuing to refuse to prohibit people on the no-fly list from getting guns, which include a lot of domestic and international terrorists. These are two parts of the same approach that I’m taking to make us safe.”
Clinton, though, declined to say the United States is engaged in a “war” with ISIS.
“Well, declare war is a very legal term, as you know so well,” the Democratic frontrunner said. “I think what we want to do is make sure we have every tool at our disposal to, No. 1, destroy there would-be caliphate in Syria and in Iraq. No. 2, do everything we can to dismantle this very effective virtual jihadist network that they are using on the Internet. And No. 3, do whatever is necessary to protect us here at home.”
Clinton was also reluctant to use the term “radical Islam.”
“Radical elements who use a dangerous and distorted view of Islam to promote their jihadist ambitions, I’m fine with that,” the former secretary of state said. “I say it all the time, and I go after Islamic, too.”
So what’s wrong with saying radical Islam?
“The problem is that that sounds like we are declaring war against a religion,” she said. “I don’t want to do that because, No. 1, it doesn’t do justice to the vast numbers of Muslims in our own country and around the world who are peaceful people.”
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said it’s time for lawmakers and the press to stop being politically correct, and wouldn’t rule out creating a database to track Muslims in the United States.
“You have people that have to be tracked. If they’re Muslims, they’re Muslims. But you have people that have to be tracked,” Trump said. “If you have people coming out of mosques with hatred and with death in their eyes and on their minds, we’re going to have to do something.”
The billionaire real estate mogul, who this week suggested he’d “go after” the families of terrorists, declined to say how he’d do that.
“I’m going to leave that to your imagination,” Trump said.
Clinton called for help from Internet companies in the wake of the news that the suspected shooters may have been inspired by the Islamic State group and had been in contact with known terrorists online.
“If you look at the story about this woman, and maybe the man too, who got radicalized, self-radicalized, we’re going to need help from Facebook, and from YouTube and from Twitter,” she said. “They cannot permit the recruitment and the actual direction of attacks or the celebration of violence by this sophisticated Internet user. … They’re going to have to help us take down these announcements and these appeals.”
Trump said ISIS is doing a better job of inspiring terror online.
“We came up with the Internet, but they’re using it better than we do,” he said. “They’re brainwashing these kids.”
The former “Celebrity Apprentice” star also blamed the media for helping facilitate the inspiration.
“You don’t use the word ‘mastermind,’” he said. “The press is making them into Robin Hood. … These people are animals. These people are not masterminds. They’re not even smart people. I bet you they have very low IQs.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also discussed the dangers of semantics.
The idea that this is not radical Islamic terrorism or that somehow there are … radical Buddhists, radical Christians,“ Bush said on “This Week.” “The simple fact is that the left has a hard time recognizing what this is. This is a fight for Western civilization. They’ve declared war on us, and we need to be much more serious about creating a strategy to take them out.”
Their comments come hours before President Obama is scheduled to deliver a rare primetime address from the Oval Office to discuss the San Bernardino attack and the broader terror threat at home.
On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted “there’s a 9/11 style attack coming to America — and I can tell you who is planning it: The leaders of ISIL.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called for “greater intelligence,” including the reinstallment of controversial U.S. surveillance programs to track potential terrorists.
“It was so wrong for Congress and the president to pull back on our surveillance capability with the NSA,” Christie said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has been critical of such programs, called for “extra scrutiny.”
“There’s a whole segment of the world that is intent on sending people here to attack us,” he said on NBC.
Like Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said fighting terrorism and increased gun control are not mutually exclusive.
“The vast majority understand we have got to do every thing we can to stop guns falling into the hands of people should not have them,” Sanders said on “Face The Nation,” calling for a ban on assault weapons, plus expanded background checks and the closure of the so-called the gun-show loophole.
On fighting ISIS overseas, Sanders said, “We cannot do it alone. Muslim nations have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican hopeful, disagreed.
“I don’t think we can rely on just other people to take care of that job,” Kasich said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “I believe the United States should be leading an effort right now to assemble a coalition, just like we saw on the first Gulf War.”
“We need to go and destroy ISIS where they are,” he added. “And the longer we wait, the more complicated and the more costly it will be.”