Hillary Clinton Uses Term 'Radical Islamism' but Cautions Against Condemning Islam

Image: Hillary Clinton on June 10, 2016
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in Washington, D.C., on June 10, 2016.Alex Wong / Getty Images

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By Jane C. Timm

Hillary Clinton used the term “radical Islamism” on Monday, marking the first time she has used the controversial phrase and signaling a break from President Barack Obama’s stance on it. She went on to stress that using the much-debated term for terrorism isn’t the point.

“Look, I think Trump, as usual is obsessed with name calling and from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It mattered that we got bin Laden, not the name we called him," she said on TODAY on Monday.

"But if he is somehow suggesting I don't call this for what it is, he hasn't been listening. I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. And, to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either, but that's not the point.”

"Radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either, but that's not the point."

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, stressed that she wouldn’t demonize Islam — the reason the president and other Democrats have refused to use the term in the past, arguing that it would vilify an entire religion while doing nothing to stop the deadly perversion of it terrorists adopt. She also hit back against the inflammatory rhetoric Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump uses.

“All this talk and demagoguery and … rhetoric is not going to solve the problem. I'm not going to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion. That's just plain dangerous and it plays into ISIS’ hands,” she said.

In interviews following the deadliest mass shooting in American history at an Orlando, Florida, club popular among LGBTQ individuals, Clinton called for action on both fighting terrorism and increasing gun safety legislation.

"How many more of these mass tragedies do we have to live through? This is the worst in American history," Clinton added on “TODAY." "The gun lobby scares the heck out of elected officials and makes it a voting issue. We need to make it a voting issue. It is no longer, you know, acceptable that elected officials at every level of government will not hear the cries, will not recognize the pain of the thousands, tens of thousands of people."

She particularly emphasized her calls for renewing the ban on assault weapons.

"From San Bernardino to Aurora, Colorado, to Sandy Hook and now to Orlando, we have seen the devastation that these military style weapons cause and I believe that terrorists and dangerous individuals are using guns to kill Americans, it's just a fact. And we should make it a lot harder for them to do that," she said.

Clinton also stressed putting partisan politics aside in favor of "statesmanship" in the wake of the attack.

“Hate is not the answer to hate, it’s just not,” Clinton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve got to stand up against hate, we’ve got to stand up against terrorism, we’ve got to put aside our political differences. We’ve got to work together with determination. We may be in the middle of a heated election, but we can’t let that distract us.”