Hillary Clinton & Co. Refuse to Say ‘Radical Islam’ at Dem Debate

Dem Debate Iowa (Alex Wong / Getty)
Alex Wong / Getty

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Democratic Party presidential debate on Saturday evening in Iowa that she would not use the phrase “radical Islam” to describe the enemy responsible for attacking the United States and the west in general.

The exchange with moderator John Dickerson of CBS News was as follows (rush transcript):

Moderator: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned radical jihadists. Marco Rubio, also running for president, said this attack showed it’s attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization “radica Islam?”

Clinton: I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists

Moderator: Just to interrupt. he didn’t say all Muslims. He said “radical Islam.”

Clinton: I think you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists, but I think it’s not particularly helpful to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries. We’ve got to have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam, that was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, we are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And, yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.

Clinton’s two opponents, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), likewise refused to use the term “radical Islam.” O’Malley said: “I believe calling it what it is is to say, ‘radical jihadis.’ That’s calling it what it is. John, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that all of our Muslim-American neighbors in this country are somehow our enemies here. They are our first line of defense.”

Sanders, who earlier had reaffirmed his view that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism (and, in fact, causes terrorism), said: “I don’t think the term is what’s important.”


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