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Clinton, Trump Give Competing Speeches On Orlando's Mass Shooting


The Orlando terrorist attack is the kind of huge, horrible event that has the potential to make or at least temporarily derail a presidential candidate. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave competing, even clashing speeches. Clinton never mentioned Trump by name.

But Trump ripped into her by name and President Obama for, what he called, an incompetent politically correct fight against ISIS. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hillary Clinton spoke first. She used her tone, dignified, restrained, modulated, as if to say this is how a president reacts to a serious assault on the U.S.


HILLARY CLINTON: The Orlando terrorist may be dead. But the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive. And we must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.


LIASSON: Steady hands, clear eyes - without mentioning him by name, she was making her argument that Donald Trump doesn't have the right temperament to be president.


CLINTON: Inflammatory, anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror.


LIASSON: She repeated her call to work with U.S. allies to dismantle the networks that provide terrorists with money, arms and fighters. She said people who the FBI is watching for suspected terror links, as the Orlando shooter was for a time, should not be allowed to buy guns with no questions asked. And she repeated her call for a ban on assault weapons.


CLINTON: Now, I know some will say that assault weapons and background checks are totally separate issues having nothing to do with terrorism. Well, in Orlando and San Bernardino, terrorists used assault weapons, the AR-15. And they used it to kill Americans.

LIASSON: If Clinton was presenting steadiness as the best quality for a commander-in-chief, Trump offered toughness. I refuse to be politically correct, he said, repeating his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. He said as president, he would suspend immigration from areas of the world where there's a history of terrorism.


DONALD TRUMP: The killer, whose name I will not use or ever say, was born in Afghan, of Afghan parents who immigrated to the United States

LIASSON: In fact, the killer was an American, born in New York just like Donald Trump. Trump warned that Muslim immigrants would commit future attacks. He said they were a bigger threat than the legendary Trojan horse.


TRUMP: The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.

LIASSON: Trump accused Clinton of planning to abolish the Second Amendment, which isn't true. Then he spoke about gays and lesbians in a manner unlike any past Republican presidential candidate. He said the attack was an assault on the ability of free people to love who they want and express their identities. But he also tried to drive a wedge between gay people and Muslims and Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country and who suppress women, gays and anyone else who doesn't share their views or values.

LIASSON: Earlier in the day, Trump had also attacked President Obama on "Fox And Friends."


TRUMP: We're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or he's got something else in mind.

LIASSON: Trump said there was something going on. Was he suggesting that the president was sympathetic to the terrorists? His campaign didn't clarify. As for Hillary Clinton, she broke from President Obama and in a tactical retreat, used, for the first time, the words radical Islamism. She told MSNBC it doesn't matter whether it's called radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism.

The U.S. can't declare war on an entire religion. Mara Liasson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.

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