GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed the president’s fierce condemnation of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the attack that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, as well as his suggestions that Obama was sympathetic to terrorists.
Ryan denounced the presumptive GOP nominee’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., telling reporters on Tuesday, “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country.” Ryan called for “a security test, not a religious test” for immigrants, according to The Washington Post.
Other Republican leaders have tried to distance themselves from Trump’s comments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to answer questions about Trump at his weekly news conference. And Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said of Trump, “I’m just not going to comment on more of his statements. It’s going to be five months of it.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican who has praised Trump in the past, called the mogul’s response to the national tragedy “disappointing.” “Traditionally, it is a time when people rally around our country, and it’s obviously not what’s occurred, and it’s very disappointing,” Corker said.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump critic, said, “I don’t think he has the judgment or the temperament, the experience to deal with what we are facing.”
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Graham and other Republicans have also decried Trump’s implications that Obama is somehow linked to terrorists and that he “continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies and, for that matter, the American people.”
Graham said that Trump “seems to be suggesting that the president is one of ‘them.’ I find that highly offensive. I find that whole line of reasoning way off base. My problems with President Obama are his policy choices.”
Obama ripped into Trump during remarks at the Treasury Department on Tuesday, dismissing the billionaire businessman’s demands that the president use the phrase “radical Islam” in reference to the Orlando shooting and other attacks. “What exactly would using this language accomplish?” the president said. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.”
As Trump continues to lose Republican support, negative views of the candidate have hit a campaign high. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, including a 56 percent majority who feel this way “strongly.”
Clinton too joined Obama in sharply criticizing Trump’s response to Orlando, calling it full of “conspiracy theories” and “pathological self-congratulations.”
The bipartisan backlash comes after Trump, in a speech on Monday, blamed the Orlando shooting on the U.S.’s “dysfunctional immigration system,” saying, “The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.” The shooter, Omar Mateen, was the American-born son of Afghan immigrants.
Trump also said the attack served as further proof that his proposed Muslim ban is the right thing and suggested extending the ban to all “areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe, or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.”