- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Latching on to national security as an issue she thinks can help deliver her the presidency, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday painted Republican Donald Trump as dangerous and took direct aim at his two most controversial plans to keep America safe.

Mrs. Clinton said that contrary to what Mr. Trump has claimed, neither building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border nor temporarily banning all Muslims from the country would have done anything to prevent the weekend’s terrorist massacre at an Orlando night club. The former first lady made the charge during a national security roundtable meeting in Hampton, Virginia, the third time in as many days she’s spoken extensively about counter-terrorism.

The Clinton campaign clearly believes it’s found a winning political strategy against Mr. Trump. Polls have shown that voters trust Mrs. Clinton more than Mr. Trump on dealing with national security issues, though some surveys actually have shown Americans have more confidence in the Republican when it comes to dealing with the Islamic State terrorist group.

Poll numbers aside, Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando incident, which has included suggestions that President Obama may sympathize with terrorists, has given Mrs. Clinton an opening.

The billionaire businessman has doubled down on his plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and has said his tough immigration stance — centered on building a wall at the southern border — would help keep would-be terrorists out of the country, but those proposals, Mrs. Clinton said, actually would make things worse and would have done nothing to prevent the Orlando tragedy.

“His comments have become even more inflammatory in recent days. This approach isn’t just wrong. It is dangerous,” she said. “As has been pointed out, the terrorist in Orlando was not born in Afghanistan, as Trump claims. He was born in Queens, New York, only miles away from where Donald Trump himself was born. A ban on Muslims would not have stopped this attack. Neither would a wall. I don’t know how one builds a wall to keep the Internet out. So, not one of Donald Trump’s reckless ideas would have saved a single life in Orlando.”

For his part, Mr. Trump shot back at Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday by saying the former first lady would open America’s borders to anyone, including potential terrorists, as he defended his national security proposals.

“We are taking in thousands of people into our country. We have no idea where they come from. We have no idea who the hell they are,” he said at a campaign rally in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before Mrs. Clinton spoke. “Hillary wants to bring people in, spend billions and billions of dollars on bringing people in.”

The two candidates also have sparred over the term “radical Islam,” a phrase the Obama administration refuses to use but one that Mrs. Clinton uttered earlier this week. Mr. Trump claimed credit for changing Mrs. Clinton’s position.

“She wouldn’t use the term. She wouldn’t use it. But I was hitting her hard on it, and finally she gets up and says, ‘I would use it,’” Mr. Trump said.

While Mrs. Clinton did indeed use the phrase, she echoed Mr. Obama in dismissing Mr. Trump’s focus on the words used when describing terrorist threats. Instead, the former secretary of state said, the nation deserves a more serious debate.

“It’s time for a substantive discussion about how we protect our country, about how we respond to terrorist attacks like the one we witnessed in Orlando,” she said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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