Trump’s N.H. speech shifts focus after Orlando massacre

  • Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a rally in Richmond, Va., Friday, June 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Published: 6/13/2016 12:45:31 PM

Donald Trump is expected to continue his attacks against President Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton in a speech this afternoon at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, while focusing on national security and U.S. responses to terrorism in light of the Orlando mass shooting.

It’s Trump’s first visit to New Hampshire since winning the state’s February primary, a key victory that helped legitimize and propel the businessman’s presidential candidacy.

His speech will focus on national security, after a gunman, identified by police as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen from Fort Pierce, Fla., opened fire with an assault-style rifle inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, killing at least 49 people before dying in a gunfight with police.

After the attack, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee issued a statement calling on President Obama to resign for refusing “to even say the words ‘radical Islam.’ ” He said Clinton should exit the presidential race if she does the same.

Trump also took to Twitter to reiterate his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and to say he appreciates “the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump originally planned the speech as an attack on Clinton, who last week secured enough delegate support to become her party’s presumptive nominee. But following the Orlando massacre, Trump shifted the speech focus to ” the serious threats facing all Americans and his solutions for making this country safe again.” Trump also postponed a Portsmouth rally planned for Monday evening.

Trump’s Manchester speech is not open to the public, but a number of top Republicans in the state are expected to attend. Since becoming the presumptive nominee, GOP leaders here have had mixed reactions to Trump, from ginger support to outright rejection.

Republican Rep. Frank Edelblut, who is running for governor, will attend the afternoon speech but would not comment on any of Trump’s policies.

“I am going to listen to the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and see what he has to say,” Edelblut said.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, a Republican who is also running for governor, won’t attend because he has official mayoral business, a spokesman said.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper similarly won’t be at the speech due to legislative business. He said Muslims should not be banned from entering the country.

“I don’t think we can condemn one religion, but we certainly have to be vigilant on who comes into this country,” said the Hudson Republican. “What’s more important is the country of origin, than the religious belief.”

In an address from the White House, Obama called the tragedy an act of terror and hate. He did not talk about religious extremists. He said the FBI would investigate the shootings in the gay nightclub as terrorism, but added the gunman’s motivations were unclear.

On Monday he said, “We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he is and cannot even mention radical Islam.”

Like Obama, Clinton called the shootings acts of terror and hate, but did not use the words radical Islam in a statement released by her campaign. Instead, she said the country must “redouble our efforts” to defend the country, including “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.” 

In response to the attack Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan said Monday there is no known or immediate threat to the people of New Hampshire but said the state is working with local authorities to provide “additional presence and resources particularly including at Laconia Motorcycle Week and at destinations like Hampton Beach.”

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