Hillary Clinton on Sunday said “we’re not winning” the fight against ISIS, but would not go as far as to say that the United States is at war with the terrorist organization, adding “it’s too soon to say.”
Still, the Democratic presidential front-runner said, “We are definitely in conflict with ISIS.”
Clinton, in an interview with ABC News, said she expects President Barack Obama will announce “an intensification of the existing strategy” against ISIS when he addresses the country from the Oval Office Sunday night. She said she believes “additional steps” are necessary to combat the group.
The former secretary of state urged Congress to pass an update to the use of military force, as she did during her foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations last month.
In the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting that left 14 dead, Clinton said the country faces “a new set of threats” and stressed that ISIS needs to be battled in the air, on the ground, and in cyberspace.
Clinton said she would support sending additional special operations forces to the Middle East but that American boots on the ground “would make things worse, not better.”
When asked why she won’t use the term “radical Islam,” Clinton said it sounds too much “like we are declaring war against a religion.”
“I don’t want to do that,” she said. “It helps to create this clash of civilizations that is actually a recruiting tool for ISIS and other radical jihadists who use this as a way of saying we’re in a war against the West.”
She also criticized Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz for saying he wanted to “carpet bomb” the region. “He’s never had any responsibility for trying to figure out who the bad guys are and who innocent civilians are,” she said.
Clinton defended herself against Republican attacks for pushing gun control immediately after the San Bernardino mass shooting and before it was clear terrorism was a factor. Clinton has called for stricter gun laws and has said Congress should ban potential terrorists on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons.
“I don’t see these two as in any way contradictory,” echoing what she told reporters on Friday in Iowa. “These are two parts of the same approach that I’m taking to make us safe.”