Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Monday clashed with Republican rival Donald Trump on his plans to ban Muslims, saying it will be “shortsighted” and “dangerous” to engage in his “demagogic rhetoric” about the community.
In a presidential debate that turned nasty from the start over Trump’s 2005 video of lewd and sexually explicit remarks against women, Clinton did not shake hands with the 70-year- old reality TV star as the two rivals walked on the stage at the Washington University here for the second presidential debate – a clear sign of the escalated rivalry between them.
In the second segment of the town-hall style debate, the two clashed on Obamacare, taxes and Islamaphobia and Trump repeatedly slammed the 68-year-old former secretary of state for her “bad judgement”, pointing fingers at her as he paced the debate floor while answering the questions.
Gorbah Hameed, a Muslim, asked the two nominees on how they will help people like her deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election.
When pressed on whether Muslim ban is no longer his position, Trump said the ban in “some form has morphed into an extreme vetting from certain areas of the world”.
“It’s called extreme vetting. We are going to areas like Syria where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of (US President) Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 per cent increase over Obama.
“People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are where they’re from what their feelings about our country is and she wants 550 per cent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time,” he said.
Trump said he does not want to see hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria “when we know nothing about them, we know nothing about their values, and we know nothing about their love for our country”.
Clinton shot back, saying: “We are not at war with Islam.”
She said Trump’s “extremely unwise” and “even dangerous” comments about Muslims are used to recruit terrorists.
Clinton said as president she will not let anyone into the country who she thinks poses a risk to America but a lot of refugees, mostly women and children, cannot be refused entry in the US just because they are Muslims.
“But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts, and others. But it is important for us as a policy not to say as Donald has said, we’re going to ban people based on a religion.
“How do you do that? We are country founded on religious freedom and liberty. How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country? Are we going to have religious tests when people fly into our country? And how do we expect to be able to implement those?” she asked.
“It’s also very shortsighted and even dangerous to be engaging in the kind of demagogic rhetoric that Donald has about Muslims. We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines,” she said.
She also attacked Trump for the “very divisive, dark things” being said about Muslims and against people like Captain Humayun Khan, the young American soldier who sacrificed himself defending the country but has been “subject to attack by Donald”.
Clinton said to defeat ISIS, America will have to work in a coalition with majority Muslim nations, but given Trump’s rhetoric, those nations are questioning as to why they should cooperate with the US.
“This is a gift to ISIS and to the violent jihadist terrorists. We are not at war with Islam and it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are. So I want a country where citizens like you and your family are just as welcome as anyone else,” she said.
Clinton said Trump’s plan to put a ban on Muslims is “extremely unwise” and “even dangerous” and what he says about Muslims is used on terrorist sites to recruit fighters “because they want to create a war between us”.
Trump shot back, saying “murderers and some very bad people” have come into the country and Clinton as secretary of state did not do anything about it.
Attacking Clinton for her bad judgement, Trump said she wants amnesty for everybody.
“Come right in, come right over. It’s a horrible thing she’s doing. She’s got bad judgment and honestly so bad that she should never be president of the United States. That I can tell you,” he said.
Citing the San Bernardino massacre by the Muslim couple that killed 14 people, Trump said Muslims have to report “problems” in their neighbourhood when they see them.
“She won’t even mention the word and nor will President Obama… Now to solve a problem you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won’t say the name and President Obama won’t say the name but the name is there. It’s radical Islamic terror,” he said.
Clinton also said that for the first time a foreign power is trying to influence the presidential election in all likelihood for Trump, whom she accused of being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump,” she alleged.
She also demanded that Trump release his tax returns so that “people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships that he has with the Russians and other foreign powers”.
Trump denied the allegations. “I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together, as an example. I don’t know Putin.”
He also said the former secretary of state should apologise to Obama for raising the birther issue. “You’re the one that sent the pictures around your campaign, sent the pictures around with President Obama in a certain garb. That was long before I was ever involved, so you actually owe an apology.”
Clinton hit back, saying Trump has never apologised to anyone, and that he owes an apology to Obama and the country.