With the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fast approaching, the two candidates quickly weighed in on the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, each suggesting he or she was best prepared to deal with such attacks.
From White Plains Monday, Clinton charged that Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous and that he is “a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists.”
At first there was some hesitancy on the part of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to characterize the attacks as terrorism—both now agree that it was, though it’s uncertain if the incidents are related to any of the international terrorist groups. Ahmad Khan Rahami, a suspect in the bombings, is now in custody after a shootout Monday with the police in Linden, N.J.
Trump immediately fired back at Clinton, repeating again his assertion that Clinton and the Obama administration are the culprits and responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. “Her weakness, her ineffectiveness, caused the problem,” he said in a statement released by his campaign team. “And now she wants to be president. I don’t think so.”
The recent attacks, as well as the one in St. Cloud, Minn., where several people were stabbed in a mall with ISIS claiming the assailant as one of its soldiers, are sure to be issues raised at the debate next Monday at Hofstra University.
Clinton added more fodder to her accusations against Trump and at the same time noted her distinction from his policies. “The kinds of rhetoric and language Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries,” she said. She has promised throughout her campaign that her fight will be against the jihadists and not against Islam, unlike Trump.
“These attacks and many others,” Trump said, “were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system.” He added, “Immigration security is national security.” His immigration policies have been widely condemned as overreaching and insulting to various ethnic and religious groups.
Given the current climate, Clinton has announced her most hawkish posture on dealing with terrorism, and it has obviously unnerved many in her liberal camp opposed to any extension of war in the Middle East and elsewhere. In many respects, this reflection is reminiscent of the decisions Clinton made during the war in Iraq that she voted for.
Immigration, terrorism and national security will be hot topics at the debate. The outcome will probably not change things dramatically since by now most voters have made up their minds about which candidate they would like to see as commander in chief.
When it comes to experience in foreign policy, Clinton is by far the best prepared, and we can expect that Trump will not go head-to-head on details of policy since he has demonstrated time and again that he has none.
Clinton would be wise to avoid mud wrestling or trading insults with Trump because he is the maestro in this regard. Her best bet in trouncing Trump is to stick to the issues, subjects with which he hasn’t a clue.