White House Calls Radical Islamic Extremism a Republican 'Talking Point'

June 21, 2016

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the term "radical Islamic extremism" is a Republican political talking point during an interview on CNN Tuesday.

In the wake of the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where the killer pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the White House and President Obama have still refused to use the phrase, with Obama ridiculing it as Republicans' sole counterterrorism strategy.

"You want to deal with this problem that happened in Orlando, you want to take it on, then call it what it is. The president's speech, while seen as effective on many different levels, didn't move the needle much on Islam, radical Islamic terror," CNN host Chris Cuomo said. "People still feel he doesn't say that because he's afraid of dealing with this problem, that he lacks a fundamental toughness about calling it what it is. He didn't move the needle on that, Josh, and people even look in Orlando and say, ‘Well, this is a reflection of that weakness as well.’ Fair?"

"Well, no, Chris," Earnest said. "It's outrageous, actually. The truth of the matter is, the individuals who spend most of their time talking about radical Islamic terrorism are individuals like Republicans in the Senate who voted against legislation that would prevent those individuals from being able to buy a gun and those are individuals who have not actually put forward their own strategy for keeping the country safe. Using the term ‘radical Islamic extremism’ is not a counterterrorism strategy. It is a political talking point, plain and simple.

"And what the president of the United States has done is put forward a comprehensive strategy to squeeze the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria to inhibit their ability to recruit and radicalize people around the globe. He has aggressively supported proposals that would make it harder for individuals who are suspected of having ties to that extremist organization from being able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun ... So the president has implemented a strategy that has put increasing pressure on ISIL and has made the country safer, but he has not relied on a political talking point as a substitute for a counterterrorism strategy."

Earnest added Obama was "focused on a strategy" to protect the homeland, while Republicans were "focused on a talking point."