MANCHESTER, N.H. – In the wake of a deadly attack in Orlando, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, reiterated Monday that if elected president, he would suspend all immigration and visas for those coming from the Middle East.
Trump called the shooting, which resulted in roughly 50 deaths on Sunday morning, “a very dark moment in America’s history. In a highly-publicized 30-minute address on national security at Saint Anselm College, he blamed the tragedy on a broken immigration system that allowed the shooter’s parents emigrate from Afghanistan. The shooter was born in the US.
“The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here,” Trump said. “That is a fact, and it’s a fact we need to talk about. We have a dysfunctional immigration system which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens.”
Trump said that if elected president, he has the authority to ban immigration from certain nations or regions.
“When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats,” Trump said. “After a full, impartial and long overdue security assessment, we will develop a responsible immigration policy that serves the interests and values of America. We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer.”
Trump also called for a full investigation into how the shooting happened and a renewed focus on defeating the Islamic State.
His speech in front out roughly 200 invited guests and press was delivered about an hour after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton offered policy proposals on the Orlando shooting. In her address, Clinton again called for increased gun control, including banning those on a terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm.
In his remarks, Trump responded that such legislation was not the answer. He said he would meet soon with the National Rifle Association “to discuss how to ensure Americans have the means to protect themselves in this age of terror.”
Earlier in the day, Trump called for greater access to firearms, saying the tragedy would be less severe if “bullets had been going the other way.” (There were armed security guards in the nightclub).
Trump also suggested on Fox and Friends that the shooting was a direct result of President Obama’s stance on terrorism, and the GOP candidate questioned his motives for doing so.
“We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind, you know, people can’t believe it,” Trump told the network on Monday morning.
Trump has said it is a problem that Obama and Clinton don’t use the words radical Islamic terrorism to describe threats from the Islamic State. However, in a series of interviews with NBC, CNN and MSNBC, Clinton did refer to radical Islamic terrorism, although she downplayed the phrase.
“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said on NBC’s The Today Show. “But if he is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.”
Both terms “mean the same thing,” Clinton continued. “And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islam, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, Trump re-arranged most of his Monday schedule, postponing two major fund-raisers and a rally in New Hampshire. Instead of a planned speech on Clinton at Saint Anselm College, Trump used his remarks to address national security and the Orlando attacks.
His speech in Manchester marks the first time Trump has been back to New Hampshire since he won the state’s presidential primary in early February. Trump’s campaign manager, New Hampshire resident Corey Lewandowski, told the Globe that, “We’re going to be there a lot leading up to the general election.”
New Hampshire has been a presidential swing state for the last 20 years, although Democrats have won the state in the last three presidential elections. The most recent polls, taken last month, show a statistical tie between between Trump and Clinton in the Granite State.