Presumptive nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each weighed in Sunday on the mass shooting at the gay club Pulse in Orlando, which authorities say claimed at least 50 lives.
The two took contrasting approaches, reflecting starkly different campaigns and personalities.
Clinton offered a subdued response on Sunday morning, calling the attack “devastating news” on Twitter and sending thoughts to those affected. She tweeted the same message in Spanish, as well. The attack took place during a Latin-themed night at the club. In a later statement, she thanked first responders and law enforcement, called for tougher gun control measures, and suggested Americans “redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad.”
Trump, however, boasted that he had predicted the attack and thanked supporters for giving him credit for his achievement.
“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. “We must be smart!” He posted a similar statement on Facebook.
He kept up the self-proclaimed victory lap in a longer statement that afternoon, again demanding recognition for noticing the threat of Islamic terrorism, which the United States is currently combatting in multiple countries via air strikes, special forces operations, and proxy wars.
“Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse,” Trump said.
Officials are still investigating the shooter’s motives, but sources told NBC News that attacker Omar Mateen called 911 shortly before the attack to pledge his allegiance to the leader of ISIS.
In his statement, Trump blamed the attack on Muslim immigration to the United States, pointing to reports that the U.S.-born Mateen’s father emigrated from Afghanistan and had expressed support for the Taliban. Trump, who on Twitter reiterated his support for an indefinite ban on Muslim travel to the United States, accused Clinton of planning to “dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East” as president.
Clinton spokeswoman Jen Palmieri responded in a statement that Trump offered “political attacks, weak platitudes and self-congratulations” rather than a “serious response” to terrorism.
Trump also criticized President Obama for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in his statements condemning the massacre, saying Obama should “resign” over his refusal to utter the words.
The candidate tweeted out an unsourced report that Mateen had shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, an Arabic phrase meaning “God is the greatest.” As noted by CNN’s Brian Stelter, Trump’s tweet appeared to be copied almost word-for-word from a tweet by Breitbart editor Sebastian Gorka, whom Trump has paid for consulting services.
In between social media posts about the attack, Trump also criticized Clinton for a campaign ad featuring footage of him appearing to mock a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, at a speech in November. Trump called the ad “false” on Twitter and said he was imitating the reporter “groveling,” not his disability.
Clinton’s afternoon statement called the shooting an “act of terror” and “act of hate” against the LGBT community. She added that the attacks showed the importance of “defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home.” She also repeated a call for stricter oversight of firearms, saying, “weapons of war have no place on our streets. “
Trump was scheduled to deliver a speech outlining his case against Clinton on Monday. In his statement on Sunday, he said he would use his remarks to “further address” the terror attack.
Clinton and Obama announced they would postpone a joint rally scheduled for Wednesday, which would would have been their first campaign appearance together since the president endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee. Clinton will use a scheduled appearance in Cleveland on Monday to speak about the attack, a campaign official told NBC News.
Trump has made a point of responding early and flamboyantly to suspected terrorism in the past, often getting ahead of the available information about the incidents. He has credited recent attacks by radicalized Muslims in Paris, Brussels, and San Bernardino with boosting his poll numbers in the Republican primaries.
After a radicalized couple killed 14 people at an office in San Bernardino in December, Trump proposed his indefinite ban on Muslim travel to the United States, which Clinton criticized at the time as “reprehensible, prejudiced, and divisive.” In subsequent days, he repeatedly claimed without evidence that Muslim neighbors and relatives of the shooters had withheld information about explosive devices at their apartment that might have prevented the attack.
This dovetailed with his behavior after the Paris attacks in November, which claimed 130 lives. Within days of the terrorist spree, Trump spread a false rumor that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims publicly celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey, an inflammatory claim that he attributed to a nonexistent television report.
More recently, after an EgyptAir plane crashed en route from Paris to Cairo in May, Trump immediately labeled the incident a terrorist attack on Twitter and in an appearance at a fundraiser before authorities had reached any conclusions about the cause. Investigations into the crash are ongoing.