Washington, June 15, 2016: Pesident Obama and Hillary Clinton conducted an extraordinary joint attack on Donald Trump on Tuesday, with the president accusing the presumptive Republican nominee of â€œdoing the terroristsâ€™ work for themâ€ and Clinton excoriating him as a liar and a â€œpathologicalâ€ personality who is temperamentally unsuited to be president.
Their remarks, made at simultaneous speeches in Washington and Pittsburgh, came the day after Trump revived insinuations about Obamaâ€™sÂ loyalty to the U.S. and vowed that as president he would ban immigration not onlyÂ by Muslims but people from any country with a â€œproven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.â€
The harsh exchanges between the two sides, with the election still five months away, underscored the brutal nature of the campaign to come, with its focus on intertwined issues of race, ethnicity, terrorism and immigration.
In his remarks, delivered after a meeting with national security advisors at the Treasury Department, Obama said that the proposals by Trump, whom he referred to as the â€œpresumptive Republican nominee,â€ would undermineÂ American values.
â€œWhere does this stop?â€ Obama demanded, noting that the shooter responsible for the killing of 49 peopleÂ in Orlando was born in the U.S., as were the attackers in several previous terrorists acts.Â â€œAre we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differentlyâ€ than other citizens? he asked. â€œAre we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith?â€
If the U.S. were to go down that path â€œwe would have betrayed the very things weâ€™re trying to protect,â€ the president said.Â â€œAnd then the terrorists would have won, and we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.â€
Groups such as Islamic State want to present themselves as the leaders of a â€œwar between Islam and America,â€ Obama said. â€œThey want us to validate them.â€ Proposals such as the ones Trump has offered are â€œdoing the terroristsâ€™ work for them,â€ he said.
Trump, in a statement emailed to the Associated Press, responded that Obama “continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people.”
“When I am president, it will always be America first,” he wrote.
Later, at a campaign rally in Greensboro, N.C., Trump repeated his insistence on the need to stop Muslim immigration andÂ said that Obama seemed â€œmore angry at me than he wasÂ at the shooter.â€
â€I have many Muslim friends,â€ Trump said. But â€œthere doesnâ€™t seem to be assimilationâ€ among Muslim immigrants, and â€œthereâ€™s no reportingâ€ by Muslims about their fellow Muslims who may be planning attacks. That charge is not true, according to FBI officials and police in many cities who have cited cooperation they receive fromÂ Muslim immigrants.
Clinton madeÂ her ownÂ blisteringÂ assessment of Trump during a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, referring to remarks that Trump had made in television interviews Monday in which he had commented on the mass shooting in Orlando.
â€œYesterday morning, just one day after the massacre, he went on TV and suggested President Obama is on the side of the terrorists,â€ Clinton said. â€œJust think about that for a second. Even in a time of divided politics, this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president.â€
Clinton called on other Republican leaders to disavow the comments, the latest to come from Trump that have put others in the GOP in an awkward spot.
â€œHistory will remember what we do in this moment,â€ Clinton said.
She called Trumpâ€™s remarks â€œshamefulâ€ and â€œdisrespectfulâ€ and â€œyet more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president.â€
“We don’t need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations,â€ Clinton said. â€œWe need leadership.â€
The remarks by Trump thatÂ Clinton referred to were madeÂ in an interview on Fox News, in which he attacked Obamaâ€™s decision not to use the phrase â€œradical Islamic terrorismâ€ in describing jihadistÂ attacks.
Obama â€œeither is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” TrumpÂ said.Â â€œThere’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on,” he said, declining to specify what he was suggesting.
Trump has previously questioned Obamaâ€™s Christian faith, referring to him in a Twitter message as â€œthe black Muslim in the White House.â€
Clinton tore into Trumpâ€™s history as a leader of the â€œbirtherâ€ movement, which alleged Obama was not born in the U.S., whichÂ he was. She also went after his recent allegation that the judge overseeing the civilÂ case brought against him by former Trump University students is biased because of his Mexican heritage. And she noted that Trump had wrongly declared that the shooter in Orlando had been born in Afghanistan.
â€œHe was born in Queens, N.Y., just like Donald himself,â€ she said.
Clinton said thatÂ after she had â€œsifted through all the bizarre rants and outright liesâ€ in Trumpâ€™s address at a New Hampshire college Monday, his plan boiled down to using the words â€œradical Islamâ€ to define terrorists and imposing a ban on Muslims and other unspecified groups from entering the country.
â€œTrump, as usual, is obsessed with name-calling,â€ she said.Â â€œFrom my perspective it matters what we do, not just what we say. It didnâ€™t matter what we called [Osama] bin Laden. It mattered that we got Bin Laden.â€
Trumpâ€™s rhetoric on Muslim immigration is among several topics that have put other Republican officials on the defensive. Tuesday,Â House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)Â repeated his opposition to any blanket ban on Muslim immigration, saying that a religious test was contrary to U.S. interests and inconsistent with the partyâ€™sÂ principles.
“This is a war with radical Islam. It is not a war with Islam,” he said in response to a question at a news conference about Trump’s speech Monday.
“Muslims are our partners,â€ Ryan added. â€œThe vast, vast majority of Muslims in this country and around the world are moderate. They’re peaceful. They’re tolerant. So they’re among our best allies, among our best resources in this fight.”
Asked if he stood by his endorsement of Trump, Ryan remained quiet, aside from a comment about theÂ temperature in the room.
“It’s hot in here,” he said.
White House officials werenâ€™t ready toÂ let the question slide, however. Press Secretary Josh Earnest toldÂ reporters thatÂ the president was holding other Republicans responsible for what he sees as their own intolerant statements as well as their refusal to reject what Trump says.
â€œMany Republicans have been making exactly the case that the president has expressed concerns about,â€ Earnest said. â€œIt was [former]Â Gov. [Jeb]Â Bush who initially advocated for a religious test on individuals who are in the country. It was Sen. [Ted] Cruz who made the reference to enhanced surveillance of Muslim communities. It is Chris Christie who expressed concerns about admitting Syrian refugees to the United States.â€
â€œThis is not, unfortunately, just about one politician in the Republican Party who is reacting out of fear and using language that the president is concerned could undermine our homeland security,â€ Earnest said.
Republican leaders countered that Obama is the one undermining security.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blamed Obamaâ€™s â€œhasty and politically driven withdrawal from Iraqâ€ for creating a vacuum that allowed the rise of Islamic State in the first place.Â He also suggested that Obama and Clinton had talked about gun regulation in the aftermath of the shootingÂ in order to avoid discussing terrorism.
â€œDemocrats want to talk about anything else,â€ he said, â€œbecause they have lost the national security debate.â€