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04 July 2016

Istanbul terror attack provides ammo for Trump’s campaign

donaldtrumpThe recent terrorist attack in Turkey has given U.S. presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump ammunition for his presidential campaign, as he promotes the narrative that Americans live in a dangerous world and need a strong leader, experts said.

Tuesday’s suicide attacks on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, which left 44 people dead and over 200 others injured, are believed to be carried out by Islamic State (IS). A gunman who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12 also pledged allegiance to IS.

In response to the Istanbul attack, Trump said the United States “must do everything possible” to tackle terrorism, promoting his message that Americans live in a world fraught with danger.

Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution, said that the Istanbul attack gives Trump ammunition on why the world is a dangerous place and why America needs a strong leader to defend itself.

“It takes the focus off his own contentious comments and refocuses the campaign on terrorism and national security,” West told Xinhua.

He added that anything that keeps the focus on terrorism will be good for Trump, as it helps him make the argument that the country needs a strong leader.

Indeed, the brash billionaire needs to focus on the fight against terror, one of his strong points, in order to overshadow offensive comments he has made against Mexicans and Muslims, which have dramatically hurt his popularity outside his base.

Trump has over the past year slammed the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama for what he labels a half-hearted response to the global terror threat, accusing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of being soft on terror while she was secretary of state under Obama.

The bombastic businessman continues to hammer away at Clinton’s anti-terror credentials, and this latest horrific attack is being sewn into that narrative, as Trump continues to try to chip away at Clinton in a bid to try and cast doubt on her strength as a leader.

For her part, Clinton said the Istanbul attack “only strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world.”

While Clinton lambasted terrorists after the Florida killings earlier this month, much of her emphasis was on U.S. domestic gun control rather than the threat of global terror. That could muddle her anti-terror message in the minds of some voters, and Trump is eager to exploit this, experts said.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the recent attack in Florida, Clinton and Trump are espousing two competing narratives as an explanation for the attacks. In doing so, each hopes to control the agenda in the race for the White House, experts said

The Orlando attack is being described by team Clinton as the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history, and by team Trump as a terrorist attack. While the gunman, Omar Mateen, had pledged allegiance to IS, he used legally purchased firearms to carry out the attack, highlighting an ongoing argument over gun control.

“Clinton needs a forceful response so that voters understand she is tough on terrorism. She has to make sure that people see her as up to the task of dealing with a threatening world,” West said

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