- Fox News
President Barack Obama on Tuesday went after Donald Trump and fellow Republicans in his sharpest rebuke yet of some of the policies floated by the presumptive GOP nominee.
Obama spoke after a meeting with his national-security council, addressing the nation in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre – the deadliest mass shooting in US history. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the shooting, which was carried out by a 29-year-old man who officials have said became radicalized and had sympathies for foreign terror organizations.
Obama did not mention Trump by name in the speech, but in an extended riff, he took several shots directed at the “presumptive Republican nominee” and his proposals in the wake of the Orlando attack. And Obama referenced “politicians who tweet” and “appear on cable news shows.”
The president began by lambasting Republicans for insisting he use the phrase “radical Islam.” Trump suggested on Sunday that Obama should “resign” if he didn’t use the phrase in an address in the hours after the attacks.
“That’s the key, they say,” Obama said. “We can’t defeat them unless we call them radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?
“Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above,” he said.
He labeled the constant insistence on using that phrase a “political distraction.” Obama added that he has been clear about how extremist organizations have “perverted” Islam.
Counterterrorism experts have never said, “Man, if we really used that phrase, we’re really going to turn this thing around,” Obama said, sarcastically.
“If there’s anyone out there who thinks we’re confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists we’ve taken off the battlefield,” he continued, taking an apparent dig at Trump’s remarks from Monday, when the Manhattan businessman suggested Obama might have sympathy toward jihadists.
Obama also suggested Trump’s comments were insulting toward intelligence and law enforcement officials who work to defeat plots in order to keep citizens safe.
Obama also took aim at some of Trump’s policy points, including his proposal to indefinitely bar all Muslims from entering the US. House Speaker Paul Ryan also said on Tuesday that such a ban wasn’t “in our country’s interests.”
“Where does this stop?” Obama asked rhetorically, adding that Muslim attackers in past mass shootings on American soil were born in the country. The Orlando shooter was a US citizen born in New York to Afghan parents.
“They were all US citizens,” Obama said. “Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance?
“Do Republican officials actually agree with this?” he added. “Because that’s not the America we want.”