Hillary Clinton delivered a speech midday in Cleveland yesterday, reflecting on Americans' efforts to come to terms with the massacre in Orlando a day earlier. "Democratic and Republican Presidents have risen to the occasion in the face of tragedy," she said. "That is what we are called to do my friends, and I am so confident and optimistic that is exactly what we will do."
Clinton's remarks included literally no references to her GOP opponent. In fact, the speech didn't mention Republicans at all, except to offer occasional bipartisan praise. The point was to emphasize Clinton's belief that this is a "moment when we all need to stand together," with a "sense of common purpose."
A few hours later, Donald Trump delivered a speech of his own in New Hampshire. It was, to my mind, arguably the scariest American speech of my lifetime.
In a speech reacting to the massacre in Orlando where 50 people were killed, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump doubles down on his proposal to ban immigration of Muslims, and he expanded his proposal to "suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or allies."
Speaking at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Monday, Trump did not mention foreign policy, discuss the fight against terrorist group ISIS, or propose solutions to combat hate or extremism, instead he said the attack early Sunday morning at the Pulse nightclub was the result of the U.S.'s immigration policies.
In December, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was asked about Trump's call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." The Wisconsin Republican wasn't pleased. "This is not conservatism," he said, adding that Trump's proposal "is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it's not what this country stands for."
That may have been true once, but in 2016, Donald Trump is the dominant figure in Republican politics. Confronted with a brutal massacre -- committed by an American on American soil -- the presumptive GOP presidential nominee had an opportunity to show what kind of leader he intends to be. He did exactly that -- which is precisely the problem.
Relying on a prepared script and trying to read from a teleprompter, Trump relied on a combination of demagoguery, ignorance, and lies to present a platform that assaults American values in ways that should be disqualifying.
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the nature of ISIS' effort to inspire acts of terror in the West, and how attacks like the gun massacre in Orlando burnish the image of ISIS to its followers. watch
Terry DeCarlo, director of the LGBT Community Center of Orlando, and Sami Haiman-Marrero, coordinator of Somos Orlando, talk with Rachel Maddow about how the community in Orlando is coping with the tragedy of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on Donald Trump's speech in New Hampshire today, in which the Republican leader, reading from a teleprompter, entertained conspiracy theories about the gun massacre in Orlando and reiterated his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. watch
* The victims in Orlando: "They were a cross-section of Americans living it up at an Orlando nightclub -- professionals who plied their trades in the city's gleaming towers, 20-somethings who worked in nearby amusement parks. They were tourists passing through town and regulars greeting old friends."
* The Florida gun dealer "who sold a handgun and a rifle to the Orlando massacre suspect said Monday that his conscience is clear. 'It's horrible but I don't make the laws. I abide by them,' Ed Henson of the St. Lucie Shooting Center, a range and gun shop in Port Saint Lucie."
* The U.S. Supreme Court this morning "turned aside the latest effort by a group of states led by Michigan to block Obama administration environmental regulations limiting power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants."
* The Supreme Court also "dealt a second setback in two weeks to Puerto Rico Monday, denying its effort to restructure more than $20 billion of its mammoth $72 billion debt."
* It's time for a change: "Leading gay rights advocates in Congress plan to ask the White House to end a decades-old policy that prohibits many gay men from donating blood in the wake of the deadly Orlando, Fla., shooting at a gay nightclub."
* Really? "Microsoft has reached a deal to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion -- the largest acquisition in the tech company's history -- to dive into the social-networking realm."
* WHO: "In a move with enormous social implications in countries hardest hit by Zika, the World Health Organization is recommending that millions of people in areas where the mosquito-borne virus is spreading now consider delaying pregnancy to avoid risking a baby born with serious brain damage."
Donald Trump is absolutely convinced that the key to counter-terrorism is religion-specific rhetoric. Somehow, if officials ignore the conclusions reached by the Bush and Obama administrations, and repeatedly use the phrase "Islamic terrorism," then Americans will magically be safer.
It's a child-like approach to national security, but according to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, it's also the pillar of his campaign's counter-terrorism policy.
And as of today, Trump believes he's won over a high-profile convert: Hillary Clinton. The GOP candidate boasted this morning that the former Secretary of State "just broke" and "said she would now use" the phrasing that makes Republicans happy.
Politico seemed willing to play along, publishing a provocative headline: "Clinton breaks from Obama, calls Orlando attack 'radical Islamism.'"
Is this true? Not exactly.
On NBC's "Today" show, co-host Savannah Guthrie reminded Clinton this morning about Trump's interest in word choice and asked why she doesn't use the language the right is so desperate to hear. Here's the full response, according to the transcript:
"Well, look, I think Trump, as usual, is obsessed with name calling and from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got bin Laden, not what name we called him. But if he is somehow suggesting I don't call this for what it is, he hasn't been listening.
"I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will. And to me, 'radical jihadism,' 'radical Islamism,' I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either, but that's not the point. All this talk and demagoguery and rhetoric is not going to solve the problem.
"I'm not going to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion. That's just plain dangerous and it plays into ISIS's hands."
For Trump, some pundits, and some of Clinton's progressive detractors, this was apparently some kind of dramatic rhetorical shift. I didn't hear it that way.
In a way, it's incredibly difficult to satirize the far-right line on counter-terrorism because, in reality, the conservative rhetoric is already pretty laughable.
President Obama has launched strikes that have killed the head of al Qaeda, the head of the Taliban, the head of ISIS in Libya, a senior leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia, the al Qaeda operative in charge of suicide bombings and operations involving explosives, among many, many others. In The Atlantic, in which Jeffrey Goldberg, hardly a liberal, wrote, "Obama has become the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency."
It's against this backdrop, the joke goes, that Republicans say, "Sure, but Obama doesn't call it 'Islamic terrorism.' Counter-terrorism successes are fine, but what really matters is word choice."
Except, the joke has become real. Here was Donald Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive presidential candidate, on Twitter yesterday:
"Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn't he should immediately resign in disgrace!"
Though others weren't quite so clownish, Trump wasn't alone. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) whined, "As a matter of rigid ideology, far too many Democrats -- from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton -- will refuse to utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.'" Republican media personalities echoed the same line.
The preoccupation with word choice -- as opposed to, say, actual counter-terrorism successes -- is almost hard to believe. In the real world, Obama has built up a fair amount of credibility on the issue, but from a right-wing perspective, ideologically satisfying word choice is literally the only consideration. Rhetoric, the president's conservative critics argue, must trump reality.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggested this morning he may use the mass shooting in Orlando as a rationale for breaking his promise about forgoing a second term in the Senate.
* Donald Trump's rally in New Hampshire today has been postponed in light of yesterday's massacre.
* Bernie Sanders is scheduled to meet with Hillary Clinton tomorrow, where the senator hopes to "get a sense of what kind of platform she will be supporting, whether she will be vigorous in standing up for working families and the middle class, moving aggressively in climate change, health care for all, making public colleges and universities tuition-free."
* The Clinton campaign unveiled its first television ad of the cycle on Saturday -- before the shooting in Orlando -- and it includes footage of Trump mocking a journalist's physical disability. In a voiceover, Clinton asks, "Do we respect each other? Do we help each other? Do we stand together?"
* Around the same time, the Clinton campaign released a rather brutal fake infomercial-style ad about "Trump University."
* Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, said yesterday in reference to Mitt Romney, "You know, Romney wanted to run, chose not to. He's now attacking this past weekend all the other Republicans who ran for president as well saying they should have done a better job. Well, if he feels that way he should have run. He was a coward."
* Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only senator to endorse Bernie Sanders, said on Friday, "I'm going to support our nominee and our nominee is Secretary Clinton."
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.