Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama angrily denounced Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric on Tuesday, blasting the views of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as a threat to American security and a menacing echo of some of the most shameful moments in U.S. history.
Obama’s rebuke was his most searing yet of the man seeking to take his seat in the Oval Office. While the president has frequently dismissed Trump as a buffoon or a huckster, this time he challenged the former reality television star as a “dangerous” threat to the nation’s safety, religious freedom and diversity.
“That’s not the America we want. It does not reflect our democratic ideals,” Obama declared in remarks that had been scheduled as simply updating the public on the counter-Islamic State campaign.
Obama walked listeners through a familiar litany of battlefield successes, but then came another message. Growing more animated as he spoke, Obama said Trump’s “loose talk and sloppiness” could lead to discrimination and targeting of ethnic and religious minorities.
“We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear and we came to regret it,” Obama said. “We’ve seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens and it has been a shameful part of our history.”
Trump responded by suggesting that Obama is too solicitous of enemies.
“President Obama claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people,” the candidate said in a statement. “When I am president, it will always be America first.”
At a fiery rally hours later in Greensboro, North Carolina, Trump said the president appeared angrier at him than he was at the Orlando gunman. “That’s the kind of anger he should have for the shooter and these killers that shouldn’t be here,” Trump told the crowd.
Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, has set off a new round of debate over counterterrorism, gun control and immigration — one that has exposed the political parties’ starkly different approaches to national security. The presumed gunman was an American-born citizen whose parents came to the U.S. from Afghanistan more than 30 years ago.
Trump has used the carnage to renew his call to temporarily ban foreign Muslim from entering the country, and added a new element: a suspension of immigration from areas of the world with a proven history of terrorism against the U.S. and its allies.