World

Obama dismisses Trump, Republican 'yapping' about radical Islam

U.S. President Barack Obama sharply criticized Donald Trump on Tuesday and dismissed Republicans’ partisan “yapping” over use of the phrase “radical Islam” — which Obama has been reluctant to do. The president also called for Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.

President also called for Congress to reinstate assault weapons ban

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Congress needs to reinstate a ban on assault weapons. He spoke after meeting with security advisers in the wake of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Without mentioning him by name, U.S. President Barack Obama sharply criticized Donald Trump on Tuesday and dismissed Republicans' partisan "yapping" over use of the phrase "radical Islam" — which Obama has been reluctant to do.

"What exactly would it change?" he said following a meeting with his national security advisers on the threat posed by the ISIS. "Would it make [ISIS] less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above."

The phrase is "a political talking point; it's not a strategy," he said, adding "that kind of yapping" hasn't stopped the government from doing its best to protect the American people.

Obama also called for Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons in the wake of Sunday's deadly nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.

Omar Mateen, 29, killed 49 people and injured 53 others with an assault rifle and handgun before he died in a shootout with police.

"We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens," Obama said, adding that people who are banned from getting on a plane shouldn't be able to buy a gun.

"Stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons."

Obama makes it clear he stands for religious rights 3:38

The U.S. ban on semi-automatic assault weapons expired in 2004. The large majority of Republicans in Congress and some pro-gun Democrats have opposed reinstating the ban.

Trump doesn't want to see the ban returned, but has spoken about banning Muslims from emigrating to the U.S. — a proposal he doubled down on following the Orlando massacre.

"Do Republican officials actually agree with this?" the president said. "Because that's not the America we want."

Obama didn't mention Trump by name, referring to him only as the presumptive Republican candidate, but said the U.S. was founded on freedom of religion and that there are no religious tests in America.

"I will not let the terrorists win," he said. 

Clinton criticizes Trump

During a campaign speech in Pittsburgh, Clinton said Trump is offering voters little more than "outright lies," "bizarre rants" and "nonsensical" words in the wake of the deadliest mass killing by a single shooter in U.S. history.

"He is the Republican nominee for president," she said, almost incredulously. "We don't need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations. We need leadership and concrete plans, because we are facing a brutal enemy." 

Slams Republican for suggesting 'Obama is on the side of the terrorists' in wake of Orlando shooting 1:38

Clinton called on "responsible Republicans" to denounce Trump's accusations about the president's loyalties, noting that "history will remember what we do in this moment."

She went after Trump for criticizing Democrats' refusal to call the Orlando shootings "radical Islamic extremism."

"Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that once uttered will stop terrorists from coming after us?" Clinton asked.

Republicans distance themselves from Trump

Trump's inflammatory response to the Orlando massacre even unnerved some Republicans, who scrambled to distance themselves from their own presumptive nominee.

Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said Trump's reasoning was "way off-base."

"Mr. Trump's reaction to declare war on the faith is the worst possible solution," Graham said.

One senior Senate Republican, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, went so far as to suggest Trump might not end up as the party's nominee after all.

"We do not have a nominee until after the convention," Alexander said. Informed that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, Alexander retorted: "That's what you say."

Even Trump's most high-profile Republican supporter, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who recently endorsed the candidate, denounced his call for an immigration ban for Muslims, saying: "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."

At a rally Tuesday night in Greensboro, N.C., Trump hit back at Obama, saying the president was more angry at him than he was at the Orlando shooter.

With files from CBC News