Republicans scramble to distance from Trump on Orlando
Republican hopes are fading for a new, “more presidential” Trump as the party’s divisions around him grow ever more acute
Dismayed Republicans scrambled for cover Tuesday from Donald Trump’s inflammatory response to the Orlando massacre, while President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton delivered fiery denunciations that underscored the potential peril for the GOP.
Republican hopes are fading for a new, “more presidential” Trump as the party’s divisions around him grow ever more acute.
Clinton, campaigning in Pittsburgh before her Tuesday night win in the Washington, D.C., Democratic primary, said: “We don’t need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations. We need leadership and concrete plans because we are facing a brutal enemy.”
In Washington, Obama said of Muslim-Americans: “Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to discriminate against them because of their faith?” After meeting with counterterrorism officials, a stern-faced Obama said: “We heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want.”
Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans clearly did not agree with him. They were nearly as unsparing as the Democrats in their criticism of his boundary-pushing response Monday to the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, by an American-born Muslim who pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group.
Among other things, Trump suggested moderate Muslims and perhaps even Obama himself might sympathize with radical elements. He renewed his call to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the country, and added a new element: a suspension of immigration from areas of the world with a proven history of terrorism against the U.S. and its allies.
“Mr. Trump seems to be suggesting that the president is one of them, I find that highly offensive, I find that whole line of reasoning way off-base,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “Mr. Trump’s reaction to declare war on the faith is the worst possible solution.”
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