In a speech that contrasted sharply with Donald Trump in tone and substance, Hillary Clinton laid out a plan Monday for defeating ISIS and making America safer.
Clinton started off her remarks in Cleveland by noting that it was not a day for politics – the day after the massacre in Orlando that left 49 people dead – and she never mentioned the presumptive Republican nominee by name.
But her entire address couldn’t have been more different than most of those delivered by her GOP rival – it was heavily policy-based, full of measures on a variety of fronts that Clinton said she would seek as president at home and abroad.
Aides said after the speech that not mentioning Trump was intentional. After noting that Trump’s tweets post-Orlando had routinely mentioned himself – including one where he said he “called” the attack – aides said they wanted to needle businessman by not giving him the name bump that they feel he lives for.
So they decided that while today’s speech would not mention Trump, it would be one one rhetorical contrast with presumptive Republican nominee.
The speech’s underlying message was one of national unity and bipartisan cooperation – Clinton recalled the time after 9/11 when, as a senator from New York, she worked with a Republican president, a Republican governor and a Republican mayor to help New York City recover from the devastating attack.
“Today,” Clinton said early in her remarks, “is not a day for politics.”
Well, maybe just a little bit.
While Clinton did not mention Trump, she did clearly rebuke some of his plans and policies, albeit briefly.
“Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslims Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror,” Clinton said, a not-so-subtle reference to Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims immigrating to the United States.
Leaving politics behind, Clinton told the audience members at an innovation factory in suburban Cleveland that while “the Orlando terrorist may be dead, the virus the poisoned his mind remains very much alive and we must attack is with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.”
The former secretary of state laid out a three-pronged approach to fighting terrorism, one similar to plans she has put forth after terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and San Bernardino.
“As president, I will make identifying and stopping lone wolves a top priority,” Clinton said. “I will put a team together from across our government, the entire government, as well as the private sector, and communities, to get on top of this urgent challenge and I will make sure our law enforcement and intelligence professionals have all the resources they need to get the job done.”
Clinton also called out American allies for allowing their citizens to sponsors terrorism by telling “the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others” that it was “long past time” that they stop “their citizens from funding extremist organizations.”
Echoing President Barack Obama, who pushed for gun control measures earlier Monday, Clinton also proposed tightening regulations on assault weapons.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said. “We may have our disagreements about gun safety regulations but we should all be able to agree on essential things: If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun.”
Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando nightclub attack, had been interviewed by the FBI three times in the years before the Sunday shooting. Democrats have responded by pressing for new gun laws that make it harder for people with suspected terrorist links to buy weapons.
On Monday, Obama said “we are going to have to make sure that we think about the risks we are willing to take by being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms available to people in this country.”
The tone and tenor of Monday’s rally was markedly different than aides had planned for it when they announced the event last week. The speech was initially scheduled to be Clinton’s general election kickoff, where the presumptive Democratic nominee would outline her differences with Trump in a highly political speech.
But the staging was more muted that other campaign rallies she has headlined. Instead of blaring pop music, the campaign opted for smooth jazz as people waited for the former secretary of state. Campaign signage, which usually covers the walls of Clinton’s event, were scrubbed for American flags.
And in a sign that Clinton wanted to be more exact with her comments, she spoke using a TelePrompTer, something she doesn’t usually do.
Clinton also cancelled two fundraisers on Monday – one in Cleveland and another in Cincinnati – because of the Orlando attack.
Clinton finished her speech by reaching out to LGBT Americans, speaking directly to the community to say “you have millions of allies who will always have your back. And I am one of them.”
“From Stonewall to Laramie and now Orlando, we have seen too many examples of how the struggle to live freely, openly and without fear has been met by violence,” Clinton said. “We have to stand together, be proud together, there is no better rebuke to the terrorists and all those who hate our open diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability. It makes us stronger and more resistant to radicalization.”