Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) struggled to explain whether he believes there is a connection between Islam and terrorist forces aiming to launch strikes at the United States when questioned by another leading lawmaker Thursday evening on the Senate floor, according to video of the exchange.
Asked by Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) during an exchange on the Senate floor if he believes "there is any connection between our enemy and Islam," Brown appeared confused and struggled to respond.
"I’m sorry, excuse me?" Brown said in response to Sasse’s question.
When asked again if he believes there is any connection between the radicals waging terrorist attack on the West and Islam, Brown said he is not sure.
"I guess, I don’t know, I’m not here to debate this," he said. "I don’t know exactly what that means, ‘A connection between our enemy and Islam.’"
"I know that semantics matter and the criticism of our president in this body is kind of front of center" as a result of the recent terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., Brown continued.
Sasse had been speaking on the Senate floor about what he described as the Obama administration’s weak response to the question of whether terrorists are motivated by their religion.
The White House made clear this week it has a "strong belief" to not "treat the [Islamic State] terrorists as leaders of some religious movement."
Sasse described this response as "lunacy."
"This is lunacy," he said. "First, while the White House is insisting that no one use the word ‘Islamic’ or note any connection between the war that we're facing and some subset of Islam—even as the White House insists that no one use the word—their own preferred adjective—ISIL or ISIS—begins with an ‘I,’" Sasse said.
"Every fourth-grader in America can deduce, without any assistance from Vanna White, what the rest of the word that begins with an ‘I’ is," he said. "And yet the White House insists that no one should use the word."