Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday called for the use of racial “profiling” to capture suspected terrorists, while Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton denounced his response to Saturday’s explosions in New York and New Jersey as “reckless rhetoric” that was fueling the Islamic State terrorist group.
The presidential hopefuls offered competing counterterrorism visions in the wake of Saturday’s bombings in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and in Seaside Park, N.J. — Clinton, the former secretary of state, billed herself as experienced on national security issues and Trump portrayed himself as eager to “knock the hell out of” terrorists.
During a Monday morning interview on the “Fox and Friends” morning talk show, Trump criticized the nation’s counterterrorism efforts under the Obama administration as weak and “gentle,” and suggested law enforcement agencies should be allowed to racially profile individuals.
“We don’t wanna do any profiling,” Trump said. “If somebody looks like he’s got a massive bomb on his back, we won’t go up to that person . . . because if he looks like he comes from that part of the world, we’re not allowed to profile. Give me a break.”
Clinton, at a press conference in White Plains, sought to cast Trump as “irresponsible,” and not capable of making complicated national security decisions. She said his rhetoric “has been seized on by terrorists, including ISIS, because they are looking to make this a war against Islam.”
“I am the only candidate in this race who has been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield,” Clinton said touting her experience leading the state department.
Both candidates spoke hours before Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, was taken into police custody for questioning in the pair of bombings.
Asked whether Rahami’s arrest will help Trump, who has previously called for banning Muslims from entering the country, Clinton told reporters: “there are millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslim Americans.”
“We are going after the bad guys and we are going to get them, but we are not going to go after an entire religion and give ISIS exactly what it is wanting,” Clinton said.
President Barack Obama, speaking at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, where he is staying for this week’s United Nations General Assembly meetings, lauded the efforts of police and first responders in New York and New Jersey, and said the federal investigation into the bombings was “moving rapidly.”
“I want to take this opportunity to reassure the people in this city, in this region, and Americans across our country that our counterterrorism and law enforcement professionals at every level — federal, state and local — are working together around the clock, to prevent attacks and to keep us safe,” Obama said. “They are the best of the best. Over the years, they have thwarted many plots and saved many lives.”