But it wasn’t long until he turned the focus from "praying" for the victims and their families back to his determination to show strength, toughness, and vigilance against the threat of Islamic extremism.
Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
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
While the FBI is investigating this tragic incident as a potential act of "domestic terrorism," at the time of Trump's comments, officials had not confirmed the alleged gunman’s ties to Islamic extremist organizations or radical Islamic terrorism. Since then, the FBI reported that the shooter, Omar Mateen, had called 911 during the incident to pledge his allegiance to ISIS.
Trump has been able to build support during these tragedies. As the presumptive Republican nominee was quick to tout, the strategy seems to click with his base; he expressed his appreciation for all the "congrats" he has been getting for being "right on radical Islamic terrorism," rather than following the more typical politician approach of just extending condolences to the victims and their families. Last month, Trump made similar comments about the EgyptAir flight crash without confirmation from officials.
His indirect self-congratulations for being strong on "radical Islamic terrorism" tracks with his past controversial statements on extremist groups, like his plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.