Clinton looks to solidify advantage as race focuses on terror

Story highlights

  • Clinton has been speaking about combating terrorism at length since terrorists killed 130 people in Paris and 14 in San Bernardino, California
  • After the attacks, Clinton aides and supporters have said her resume makes her the best candidate to seize this moment

Tulsa, Oklahoma (CNN)Hillary Clinton cast herself as the only candidate able to defeat ISIS during a speech here on Friday, seeking to solidify her lead as the tenor of the 2016 campaign turns to national security following a string of deadly terrorist attacks.

Clinton has been speaking about combating terrorism at length since terrorists killed 130 people in Paris and 14 in San Bernardino, California. But Friday, the former secretary of state argued that she is the "only candidate that's been outlining a specific plan" to defeat ISIS.
"The others, they talk a lot. They throw out all these approaches, but I have been in the situation room in the White House and I know what it is going to take and I will keep America safe," Clinton said to a cheering crowd in Tulsa that had waited two-hours for the late 2016 candidate.
    Clinton said that there was "no higher responsibility for your president" than fighting terror and keeping the United States safe, arguing that the country needs a "smart, strong strategy that works" not just something that grabs headlines.
    After the attacks, Clinton aides and supporters have said her resume makes her the best candidate to seize this moment.
    "This election is not only about choosing a president, it is about choosing a commander in chief," Clinton said earlier this week in Iowa.
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    Clinton made a similar argument on Friday, touting her time as senator from New York during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and as secretary of state for four years.
    "I was one of the very few people advising the President about a very risky operation to go after bin Laden and others that were not so well known," Clinton said about the mission to kill the world's most wanted terrorist in 2011. "I know that this is challenging, but I know we can do it."
    Terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have dramatically altered the tenor of the 2016 campaign, drawing the focus more on fighting terrorism and protecting the United States.
    A new New York Times/CBS News poll found this week that terrorism eclipsed the economy as Americans' top issue. Last month, only 4% of Americans said terrorism was the most important problem, but now nearly one in five -- 19% -- believe it is.
    The Republican side of the debate post-San Bernardino has been largely dominated by Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, who proposed banning Muslims from coming into the country earlier this week.
    While Clinton has willingly laid out plans to fight ISIS, her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has been more reluctant. The independent first mentioned fighting terrorism in a speech about Democratic socialism after Paris and has tried to remain focused on his primary issue, the economy.
    At a press conference earlier this week, Symone Sanders, Sanders' spokeswoman, told reporters not to "ask about ISIS today." When asked why he didn't want to talk about ISIS during the press conference, Sanders argued that ISIS was important, but not the only issue needing attention.
    "I have said is that obviously ISIS and terrorism are a huge national issue that we have got to address, but so is poverty, so is unemployment, so is education, so is healthcare, so is the need to protect working families," he said.
    Clinton will expand upon her plans to combat ISIS next week, too, when she outlines her counterterrorism strategy and plan to combat "domestic radicalization" in Minnesota.