Hillary Clinton on Saturday laid out what could be themes for her upcoming general election campaign, saying Donald Trump is a bigot and guns help terrorists, not average Americans.
Clinton spoke during the third Democratic debate, which was staged at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. The almost-certain Democratic nominee characterized the leading GOP prospect — and by implication, the 40 percent of Republicans who support him — as embracing racism.
“Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make them think there are easy answers to very complex questions,” Clinton said early in the debate.
Trump has indicated that he would return illegal immigrants to Mexico and take a pause on Muslim immigration while beefing up screening methods to find terrorists entering the United States from the Muslim world.
Trump, she indicated later, was creating more radicalization by trying to target the communities where radicalization is occurring.
“We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears,” she said.
“He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.”
Like President Obama before her, Clinton linked gun violence to terrorism, with the implicit suggestion that limiting Second Amendment rights could help combat ISIS attacks in America.
“I think you have to look at both the terrorism challenge that we face abroad and certainly at home and the role that guns play in delivering the violence that stalks us,” Clinton said. “Clearly, we have to have a very specific set of actions to take.”
She rejected the argument that Americans should bear arms to protect themselves against the type of soft-target attacks — that is, assaults with guns on groups of average people — ISIS deploys.
“Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer,” Clinton asserted. “We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence, arming more people to do what I think is not the appropriate response to terrorism.”
Clinton suggested, in a stark contrast with Trump, that Muslims should somehow be enlisted to help find threats within their community without being made to feel like Muslims were being targeted or, worse, marginalized.
“We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what happens and reporting it if it’s suspicious, reporting what you hear, making sure that Muslim Americans don’t feel left out or marginalized at the very moment when we need their help,” she said.
“The first line of defense against radicalization is in the Muslim-American community, people who we should be welcoming and working with.”
At one point, Hillary disappeared during a commercial break and didn’t show up until a full minute into the next segment. Viewers saw Clinton’s empty podium when ABC News came back from its second commercial break.
Clinton finally walked on stage, saying “Sorry,” but offering no explanation for why she had to leave a live debate.
Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders seemed during the debate to bury the hatchet over the acquisition of Clinton campaign data by the Sanders campaign, which was able to gain access to the information because a glitch at the DNC. Ironically, the conflict was starting to threaten Clinton more than Sanders due to what some believed was an overreaction by the DNC, which for a short period punished Sanders’ campaign by keeping it from its own data bank.
Sanders apologized to Clinton, who accepted the apology and said, “We should move on.”
This article also appears on LifeZette.