CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton called on Americans to “stand together” following the nation’s deadliest mass shooting, and vowed to combat homegrown terrorist threats and escalating gun violence.
A day after Sunday’s bloody rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, addressed hundreds of supporters at a Cleveland warehouse on Monday.
She outlined plans to combat the Islamic State terrorist group, and repeated her call for a national ban on assault style weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle police say Omar Mateen, 29, used to kill 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse night club early Sunday morning.
Authorities say Mateen, a Fort Pierce security guard, pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State before firing into the crowd at the club. He was later shot in a standoff with police.
“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” Clinton told the crowd at the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center. “We must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country.”
Clinton said if elected she would form a “team” of government and private sector experts to help identify and stop “lone wolves” such as Mateen. She said the United States should ramp up efforts with allied nations to “dismantle the networks” that provide money and support to the terrorist groups.
Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State, did not mention presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by name during the 30-minute address at the Team Wendy factory, which makes protection products, including helmet pads for the U.S. military. Instead, she took swipes at Trump policies, including his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. and his pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Our open, diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability,” Clinton said.
Clinton on Monday called for increased outreach to U.S. Muslim communities, saying “we should be intensifying contacts in those communities ... not scapegoating or isolating them.”
The campaign event, in a key battleground state, was subdued compared with Clinton’s typical campaign rallies. At the beginning of her remarks, Clinton told the audience, “Today is not a day for politics.”
Carolyn Benion, 57, director of a leadership camp for at-risk youth outside Cleveland, brought four of the camp’s students to the event. Benion lamented that they had to grow up hearing of “horrific tragedies” such as the shootings in Orlando.
“Why does anyone need an assault-style gun?” Benion said. “There needs to be measures in place to make sure these guns are not getting into the hands of people who can use them to cause so much harm, and I believe she [Clinton] is the one to do it.”
Clinton is scheduled to campaign at a Pittsburgh union hall Tuesday, the day voters in Washington, D.C., head to the polls for the final primary of the 2016 season.
Her Democratic primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said yesterday he is scheduled to meet with Clinton in Washington, D.C., once polls close.
With David M. Schwartz