June 13, 2016
Donald Trump broke out an old attack line against President Obama on Monday, suggesting that there’s “something going on” with an American leader who avoids blaming “radical Islamic terrorism” for events like the Orlando massacre.
The country is “led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said in an interview Monday morning with Fox News. “And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it . . . They cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
Trump did not clarify what he meant, but he has previously flirted with theories that Obama is actually Muslim. During the last election cycle, he repeatedly suggested that Obama was hiding his birth certificate because it might identify him as a Muslim. Even after Obama released the long-form version of his birth certificate, Trump tweeted about the “black Muslim in the White House.”
Some Republicans have suggested that Trump would move away from espousing such theories once the GOP primaries ended. But Monday’s statements made clear that he does not plan such a switch and is likely to continue making such appeals on into the general election.
The White House dismissed Trump’s remarks.
“I can tell you that when you are focused on something as big as helping the country respond to the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history, it’s important not to get distracted by things that are so small,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
But the suggestion that Obama is not the Christian he claims to be, but rather a Muslim with a secret agenda, is one that has pursued Obama throughout his presidency. Candidate Obama spent much of his 2008 campaign explaining his nonreligious upbringing to voters and talking to them about his decision to join a Christian church in Chicago as a young adult.
The whisper campaign about Obama’s religion occasionally broke into the open during that campaign, as it did when a voter at one of Sen. John McCain’s town hall meetings referred to Obama as “an Arab.”
“No, ma’am,” the Republican nominee replied, “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”
Trump, however, has never followed suit. And on Monday, he once again pushed the suggestion into public discussion. Obama should resign in the wake of the Orlando shooting because he “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable,” Trump said in the Fox interview.
Later, on NBC, Savannah Guthrie pushed Trump to clarify his earlier remarks. “There are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it,” Trump said. “A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be.”
Why would that be? Guthrie pressed.
“Because Savannah, Savannah, why isn’t he addressing the issue?” he responded. “He’s not addressing the issue. He’s not calling it what it is. This is radical Islamic terrorism.”
Obama often says he doesn’t use that label because he doesn’t want to indict an entire religion based on the acts of a few extremists.
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