Donald Trump addressed the Orlando shooting during a Monday, June 13, appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire, after facing major Twitter backlash for his previous comments about the attack.
"I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimidation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence," Trump, 69, said during the 30-minute speech. "This is not just a national security issue. It's a quality-of-life issue."
"We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country — many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer," he added.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee — who previously said Muslims shouldn't be allowed to enter the country "until we figure out what the hell is going on” — first responded to the fatal rampage (which took place on Sunday, June 12, at gay nightclub Pulse) with a tweet that was largely interpreted as insensitive.
"Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance,” he wrote on Sunday. “We must be smart!"
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Not long after, celebrities shared their disappointment in Trump’s message. "Is this the grossest tweet in Twitter history? Yes. I think it is," Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet tweeted, while Olivia Wilde wrote: “You are disgusting, @realDonaldTrump. Surely your supporters deserve more than your heartless idiocy.”
The ex–Celebrity Apprentice host attempted to justify his words by telling the Today show: “I said 'while I appreciate' — because I've been receiving tens of thousands of tweets, literally tweets and calls and letters and everything — because I've been the one that predicted it. What I said is, 'I want you to be strong, I want you to be vigilant and I want you to be smart.' I don't want the credit."
Police identified the shooter in the tragic event as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Florida. He opened fire in the club just after 2 a.m., killing 49 and wounding dozens more.
According to several reports, Mateen — who’s originally from Queens and whose parents are from Afghanistan — allegedly pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS prior to his deadly rampage. (His father denied he was “radicalized.”)
On Sunday, Trump also suggested that President Barack Obama should resign from the Oval Office early. “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” the business mogul fired off. “If he doesn't he should immediately resign in disgrace!”
As previously reported, Obama, 54, spoke out about what is now the deadliest shooting in American history on Sunday. “Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, a horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people,” he said. “We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand for the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city.”
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