CLEVELAND — In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando and facing pressure from her Republican rival, Hillary Clinton said in a series of interviews on Monday that she would use the phrase “radical Islamism” to describe the threat that the United States must confront and defeat.
However, she also dismissed the debate over semantics as a non-starter.
“I think [Donald] Trump, as usual is obsessed with name calling,” Clinton said in a phone interview with NBC. “From my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It mattered that we got Bin Laden, not the name we called him.”
She continued: “We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism and we will. And, to me, radical jihadist, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either.”
Donald Trump and other Republicans, including former presidential candidates, have repeatedly attacked Clinton and President Barack Obama for refusing to use the words “radical Islam” or “radical Islamic terrorism” when referring to those who carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe. Clinton has so far avoided using that language, and cautioned that it is unfair, and perhaps unsafe, to paint with “too broad a brush.”
“Islam itself is not our adversary,” Clinton said in a speech on national security in November. “The obsession in some quarters with…repeating the specific words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ is not just a distraction. It gives these criminals, these murderers, more standing than they deserve and it actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.”
Later Monday morning, calling into MSNBC, Clinton again said “radical jihadist terrorism” is the “same” as “radical Islamism” while maintaining her position that Muslims, in general, are not the enemy.
“We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, or radical Islamism, whatever you call it. It’s the same,” she said. “But we cannot demonize, demagogue or declare war on an entire religion.”
She said on CNN that American Muslims must be a part of the effort to stop terrorism.
“We also want to reach out to the vast majority of American Muslims, and Muslims around this world, to help us defeat this threat, which is so evil and has got to be denounced by everyone, regardless of religion,” she said.
Trump, who also called into five different morning shows on Monday, took credit for Clinton’s shift on Twitter.
“I have been hitting Obama and Crooked Hillary hard on not using the term Radical Islamic Terror,” he wrote. “Hillary just broke-said she would now use!”