President Barack Obama on Tuesday angrily hit back at the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and others who routinely criticize him for not using the phrase "radical Islamic terror" when talking about the Islamic State or other extremists groups.
The president said "the rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we're fighting" has now reached a point where "the presumptive Republican nominee for president" proposes to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States.
"Where does this stop?" Obama asked.
Trump reiterated his proposal Monday during a New Hampshire speech where he cited themass killing of patrons early Sunday at an Orlando, Florida nightspot as further proof that "radical Islamic terrorism" threatens the U.S. He also said the killer, Omar Mateen, was "born an Afghan," but he was actually born in New York to immigrant parents.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting at the Treasury Department, Obama, who is scheduled to travel to Orlando on Thursday to visit with surviving victims and families of those killed in the shooting rampage, denounced Trump's rhetoric.
"The Orlando killer, one ofthe San Bernardino killers, theFort Hood killer -- they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance?" he asked. "We've heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign.
"Do Republican officials actually agree with this?" he said.
Obama has routinely been criticized by Trump, GOP lawmakers and others who say his refusal to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" suggests he is playing down the Muslim religion's connection to terror.
He called the criticism a political distraction.
"What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?" he asked. "Would it make [Islamic State] less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?
"The answer is ‘None of the above," he said.
What it would do, instead, Obama said, is serve the interests of the terrorist, who want the world's one billion Muslims to believe the U.S. or the West is at war with Islam.
"There is no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam,'" he said. "It's a political talking point. It's not a strategy."
Turning to the killings in Orlando, Obama said Republican lawmakers could adopt "common sense steps" to stop violence by giving the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms the resources to enforce current gun laws and by ensuring that people who are on a terror watch list that won't let them on a plane also won't let them buy a gun.
Obama also said that the assault weapons ban should be reinstated. Regardless of the efforts made by law enforcement across the country, he said, unless there are stricter gun laws put in place, mass shootings will continue to happen.
"Enough talking about being tough on terrorism," he said. "Actually be tough on terrorism, and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons."