Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting while his likely Democratic rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, offered condolences and a call for solidarity but stopped short of mentioning a religious motive for the attack.
The candidates’ reactions to the massacre early Sunday morning inside a gay nightclub — the worst mass shooting in U.S. history — fell in line with their respective messages on the campaign trail, experts said.
Clinton, the former secretary of state, took a more traditional approach, experts said, with comments not unlike those from officials after previous massacres.
In a statement, Clinton denounced the killings as an “act of terror and “act of hate.”
Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee assailed Clinton for what he described as her lenient policies on Middle Eastern immigrants, although the 29-year-old man suspected of carrying out the Orlando shooting was born and raised in the United States.
Trump also railed against Clinton and President Barack Obama for not calling out Islamic radicalism and said he predicted more violence.
“What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”
The billionaire developer appeared to boast about accolades he was receiving for his position on terrorism, writing in an earlier tweet, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance.”
Trump’s campaign said he was to deliver a speech Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire, focused on terrorism, immigration and national security. He had previously been expected to give an anti-Clinton address about questionable contributions to her family’s nonprofit and her private email server scandal.
The Clinton campaign also adjusted its schedule, postponing a stop she was to make Wednesday in Wisconsin with Obama.
She said toward the end of her statement that the shooting, “reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”
Clinton otherwise steered clear of politics but said prejudice against the LGBT community was also a likely factor.
“This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country,” she said.
Frank Sesno, the director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, told Newsday the candidates must show voters they can be “comforter-in-chief” as well as commander in chief.
“He is more focused on his singular message, which is one of toughness and of sort of I-told-you-so,” he said of Trump.
Iona College political science professor Jeanne Zaino said the Republican hopeful missed an opportunity to appear presidential and express empathy.
David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, said the reaction was to be expected of Trump, who does not play by the rules of other political candidates.
“To the extent that he’s saying, I want a strong and muscular response to Islamic terrorism, it doesn’t hurt him,” Birdsell said. “To the extent that he’s saying, I, Donald Trump was right, it’s plainly an insensitive gesture at a time when people take a step back to mourn.”