Trump blows dog whistle, barks

Donald Trump has long called Barack Obama weak on terrorism. But what was he insinuating during a series of phone-in interviews with morning news shows on the day after the slaughter on Orlando?

It sounded vaguely sinister.

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump told Fox News. “And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on.”

There was more.

“He doesn’t get it — or he gets it better than anybody understands.”

The Washington Post reported that Trump seemed to be accusing Obama of identifying with radicalized Muslims and of being complicit in the shooting at the gay nightclub. The Post’s web headline: “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” Other news organizations had a similar take.

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Late Monday afternoon, Trump took strong offense — announcing on Twitter and Facebook that he was yanking the Post’s credentials “based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign.”

So what did he mean by those things he said about Obama?

“Well, you know, I’ll let people figure that out for themselves,” Trump said on the Howie Carr radio show in Boston.

Terror: Trump’s answer

Tethered to a TelePrompTer, Trump offered his now-familiar plan to temporarily halt Muslim immigration — accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of having “put political correctness above common sense” and “your safety.”

Seeking to appeal to a constituency that has gotten scant Republican support during the campaign, Trump said he would be the “better friend” to the LGBT community because he is willing to protect them from the terrorists who hate them. For more on Trump’s speech, see the story by Newsday’s Emily Ngo in New Hampshire.

Terror: Clinton’s answer

Clinton sought to put a robust cast on her plan to fight terror — including efforts to ferret out “lone wolves” before they strike and ramping up efforts with allied nations to “dismantle the networks” that provide money and support to terrorist groups.

In a speech in Cleveland, she called for increased outreach to U.S. Muslim communities, saying “we should be intensifying contacts in those communities ... not scapegoating or isolating them.” She also called for laws to make it harder for terrorists to acquire firearms. For more, see Laura Figueroa’s story for Newsday.

The take-away: Rapid responses

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Today’s news cycle requires ever-quicker responses to external shocks like the Orlando massacre, and both candidates obliged. But addressing motives and events leading up to the weekend murders requires more than exchanging slogans, pledges, one-liners and in Trump’s case, exotic claims, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

King: Stop the name-calling

Rep. Peter King (R-Shirley) had a sober message on MSNBC Monday: “We have to stop the name-calling” and reassess how to conduct what will be “a long, hard-fought war” against terrorism.

It was a message, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune, that was picked up by the “Morning Joe” show’s next guest, Clinton, who said, “It’s a time for statesmanship, not partisanship.”

King, who has endorsed Trump because he’s the presumptive GOP nominee, dismissed the promises of Trump and other Republicans who speak of delivering knockout blows to the Islamic State group and other terrorists with bombs and military strikes.

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Seeing blue

There are troubling trends for the Trump campaign in two states that are normally, reliably deep red, Republican.

A Salt Lake City Tribune poll shows Trump and Clinton tied at 35% each in Utah, with 13% for Libertarian Gary Johnson. And Clinton leads 43% to 36% in a Zogby poll of Kansas.

That’s not going to reassure GOP strategists already dubious of Trump’s stated intention to put resources into heavily Democratic New York.

What else is happening:

  • Trump and Clinton both canceled fundraisers that were scheduled for Monday because of the Orlando shootings ...
  • Republicans worried anew as they tried to figure out exactly what Trump was talking about and how to react to it...Some suggested failure... 
  • Roger Stone, an outside Trump adviser, is seeking to revive right-wing fringe theories that Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a “Saudi spy” or a “terrorist agent” ...
  • The Trump Organization was accused by opponents in a lawsuit a decade ago of destroying emails that were sought as evidence, USA Today reports ...
  • Former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio of Florida, who isn’t running for re-election to the Senate, said the Orlando shootings may influence his thinking over whether to reconsider ...
  • Trump says Mitt Romney, who has denounced him, “ought to go into retirement and relax because he’s wasting a lot of people’s time” ...
  • Fudging and disregard for facts occurred again in the Trump terrorism speech.
  • Gay-rights leaders aren't all buying into Trump's post-Orlando appeal for their support.