How will the next president respond to a national crisis?
The social media messages of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting illustrate the differences in approach of the two presumptive presidential nominees.
Clinton was cautious in her response, waiting before publishing a lengthy statement on Facebook and Twitter expressing condolences for the victims and their families, condemning the attack as an act of terror and offering support for a core constituency, the LGBT community.
"This was an act of terror. ... This was also an act of hate." —Hillary on the attack in Orlando https://t.co/MmaGjrSufr— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
"To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them." —Hillary https://t.co/MmaGjrSufr— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Clinton also wrote that the nation’s deadliest mass shooting is a clarion call for getting guns out of the hands of criminals.
"We need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals." —Hillary on the FL attack— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Trump, by contrast, was quicker to react, turning to Twitter to condemn the attack as an act of Islamic terror (and then issue a statement condemning President Obama for failing to label the mass killings as such).
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
Reporting that Orlando killer shouted "Allah hu Akbar!" as he slaughtered clubgoers. 2nd man arrested in LA with rifles near Gay parade.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
The gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a phone call to 911 moments before the rampage at the Pulse Nightclub, NBC reported, but there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack on jihadi forums.
Michael K. Bohn, a career naval intelligence officer who ran the White House Situation Room for President Ronald Reagan and took readers into the situation room with his book, "Presidents in Crisis," said Americans crave bold and decisive action from the Oval Office in times of crisis.
But that doesn't always yield the best results.
"The people that were cautious, especially in the beginning, had a much better rate in having a successful crisis resolution than those that acted boldly," said Bohn, who examined the responses of every administration, from Truman to Obama.
Bohn said Clinton and Trump illustrated two distinctly different approaches to incidents — boldness and caution — in their reactions to the shooting in Orlando, which left 50 people dead and another 53 wounded.
"Clinton discovered, as Secretary of State, that you can’t just run out into the street and start yelling," said Bohn.
Trump, a savvy campaigner who has mastered the art of the tweet, has come to a different conclusion — that there is no downside to criticizing a political opponent in times of crisis.
"Any crisis, no matter what it is, is a chance for political opponents of the sitting president to make hay," Bohn said. "The opponents of the president will say anything because there’s no consequence if they say the wrong thing. They have no skin in the game, and everything looks easy from the sidelines."
What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.