June 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton, Trump offer anti-terrorism plans after Orlando shooting
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, election 2016, gay news, Washington Blade

Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Photo of Trump by andykatz; photo of Hillary Clinton by joeygil; courtesy Bigstockphoto)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump proposed contrasting anti-terrorism plans in the wake of the Orlando shooting over the weekend at a gay nightclub, although both recognized the focus of the attacks were LGBT people.

Both presidential candidates called for the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, a terrorist group to which the shooter pledged allegiance. But the candidates diverged on restrictions to gun access, which Clinton supports and Trump rejects, and anti-Muslim sentiment, which Trump embraces but Clinton opposes.

In a speech in Cleveland, Clinton said, “all Americans need to stand together” amid the continued threat of terrorism within the United States and overseas.

“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” Clinton said. “We must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values. I have no doubt we can meet this challenge – if we meet it together.”

Clinton enumerated “executing LGBT people” as among the atrocities committed by ISIS as well as genocide of religious and ethnic minorities, killing Muslims who oppose them, murdering Americans and Europeans and enslaving, torturing and raping women and girls.

“The terrorist in Orlando targeted LGBT Americans out of hatred and bigotry,” Clinton said. “And an attack on any American is an attack on all Americans. I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country: You have millions of allies who will always have your back, and I am one of them.”

Trump delivered his speech in New Hampshire, saying he intended to speak on “how bad a president” Clinton would be, but changed his mind after the Orlando attacks.

“The attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the worst terrorist strike on our soil since September 11th, and the worst mass shooting in our country’s history,” Trump said. “So many people dead, so many people gravely injured, so much carnage, such a disgrace. The horror is beyond description.”

In an unusual move for any Republican politician and likely a first for a Republican presidential nominee, Trump recognized the LGBT victims of the attack and said the nation “stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT community.”

“A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation,” Trump said. “It is a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation. It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.”

Trump’s speech stands in contrast to remarks he delivered Friday to an anti-LGBT audience at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, where he used coded language to indicate support for anti-LGBT discrimination. Trump said he supports “religious freedom,” considered code for anti-LGBT bias among conservatives, and restoring faith “to its proper mantle in society.”

Clinton laid out a three-pronged plan to confront ISIS: 1) identifying and stopping “lone wolves” by dismantling networks that move money and propaganda around the world; 2) hardening defenses at home by ensuring local officials have access to federal intelligence and training on ways to protect ‘soft targets’ like nightclubs; 3) and preventing radicalization, which she said includes stopping Middle East countries and others from funding extremist organizations.

As part of increasing defenses at home, Clinton called for increased gun safety measures, which includes expanding background checks to purchase and broader restrictions on obtaining assault weapons.

“If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked,” Clinton said. “You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show. And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”

Trump’s plan in the wake of the attacks includes addressing a “dysfunctional immigration system,” and banning Muslims from entering the United States, noting the shooter’s parents were born in Afghanistan.

“With 50 people dead, and dozens more wounded, we cannot afford to talk around the issue anymore — we have to address it head on,” Trump said. “I called for a ban after San Bernardino, and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so — and although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on. The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.”

If elected, Trump said he’ll suspend immigration from parts of the world “when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.”

Trump, who was recently endorsed by the National Rifle Association, also repudiated the idea restrictions on gun access are needed in the wake of the attacks.

“Hillary Clinton says the solution is to ban guns,” Trump said. “They tried that in France, which has among the toughest gun laws in the world, and 130 were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists in cold blood. Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the 2nd amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. She wants to take away Americans’ guns, then admit the very people who want to slaughter us.”

In her speech, Clinton preemptively criticized Trump for his support for a Muslim ban, which she said only inflames tensions for a nation under the threat of terrorism.

“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,” Clinton said. “So does saying that we have to start special surveillance on our fellow Americans because of their religion. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled after Paris and San Bernardino.”

Trump took Clinton to task for opposing a Muslim ban, invoking LGBT people by saying the burden is on her explain why the United States “should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans.”

“Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?” Trump said. “Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country—they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.”

In remarks not included in his transcript of his speech, Trump said the Obama administration’s policies on LGBT rights have been a “disgrace” to that community despite “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, marriage equality and hate crimes protections being among the achievements. Trump himself is an opponent of same-sex marriage.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, took to Twitter to reject Trump’s vision for protecting LGBT people by banning Muslims from the United States.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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