Obama on Trump's anti-Muslim Rhetoric: 'Not the America We Want'

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton launched a nearly simultaneous attack on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington, June 14, 2016.
President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington, June 14, 2016.Credit: Susan Walsh, AP

President Obama said in a speech on Tuesday afternoon that anti-Muslim rhetoric from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is "not the America we want."

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton launched a nearly simultaneous attack.

Obama used a speech at the Treasury Department for an extraordinary rejection of Trump's proposed suspension of immigration from countries with a "history of terrorism" in response to the Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre.

Treating Muslim-Americans differently won't make the U.S. safer, Obama said. He argued that it will make the country less safe by fueling the notion among followers of the Islamic State that the West hates Muslims.

Without mentioning Trump by name, the president, clearly angered, dismissed the Republican's criticism that he does not employ the term "radical Islamic terrorism" to describe Islamic State militancy. Obama called it a political distraction.

"What exactly would using this label accomplish, what exactly would it change?" Obama said. "Someone seriously thinks we don't know who we're fighting? ... There's no magic to the phrase radical Islam. It's a political talking point."

Obama said the U.S. was founded on freedom of religion and that there are no religious tests in America.

Such talk makes Muslim-Americans feel like their government is betraying them, he added.

Obama's comments came after a meeting with his national security advisers on the threat posed by ISIS. He also was briefed on the investigation into the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Clinton, speaking to supporters in Pittsburgh, said Trump's proposal bolstered her case that Trump is temperamentally unfit to serve as president, saying the commander-in-chief "is a job that demands a calm, collected and dignified response" to events like the Orlando massacre early on Sunday.

She noted that Trump seemed to suggest on Monday in a television interview on Monday that Obama might have somehow been responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, a point that Trump said he did not make.

"I have to ask: Will responsible Republican leaders stand up to their presumptive nominee or will they stand by his accusation about our president?" she said.

Trump was unrelenting on Tuesday in his criticism of Obama, saying in a statement that Obama "claims to know our enemy, and yet he 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," said Trump. Aides said Trump, who on Monday said Obama should resign for failing to handle the threat properly, would have more to say at a rally later in Greensboro, North Carolina.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top U.S. elected Republican, on Tuesday distanced himself from Trump's proposed Muslim ban in a further sign of establishment unease with the Republican candidate's agenda.

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