CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton said that she is "happy" to use the term "radical Islamism" to describe the ideology that has driven terrorists like the shooter in the Orlando massacre, marking a shift in her position on the issue.
"To me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing," Clinton said on NBC News's Today Show. "I’m happy to say either. But that’s not the point."
"All this talk and demagoguery and rhetoric is not going to solve the problem," she added.
In the past, Clinton has avoided referencing "Islam" when discussing terrorism. Asked in December in an interview with ABC News why she refuses to say "radical Islam," Clinton explained that it implied a "clash of civilizations."
"Well, the problem is that that sounds like we are declaring war against a religion. And that, to me, is, number one, wrong," Clinton told ABC News. "I don't want to do that because, number one, it doesn't do justice to the vast numbers of Muslims in our own country and around the world who are peaceful people.
"Number two, it helps to create this clash of civilizations that is actually a recruiting tool for ISIS and other radical jihadists who use this as a way of saying we're in a war against the West," Clinton added.
Donald Trump in particular faulted Clinton for refusing to use the phrase in the wake of the Orlando massacre, which left 49 victims dead.
And on Monday, he claimed credit for Clinton's shift.
"I have been hitting Obama and Crooked Hillary hard on not using the term Radical Islamic Terror. Hillary just broke-said she would now use!" Trump tweeted.
I have been hitting Obama and Crooked Hillary hard on not using the term Radical Islamic Terror. Hillary just broke-said she would now use!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2016
The issue has become a point of contention for some Republicans, including Trump, who have claimed that it is proof that Clinton and President Obama are so "politically correct" that they refuse to name the enemy, and thus are incapable of combatting it.
Clinton's decision to dismiss the issue altogether and say the words "radical Islamism" signals that her campaign seeks to take this argument of the table. According to a Clinton aide, she was "calling him out" over his focus on words not on actions.
"She insisted today that she won't declare war against an entire religion the way that Trump has, but she isn't going to let us be distracted with semantic games," the aide said. "The real question is, what's your plan? And he clearly does not have one."
In several interviews on Monday morning, Clinton said that Orlando was clearly a terror attack inspired by the Islamic State but that she is far less concerned about putting a label on it.
"Trump, as usual, is obsessed with name calling, and from my perspective it matters what we do, not what we say," Clinton said on NBC News's "Today" show. "It matters that we got [Osama] bin Laden, not what name we called him."
Clinton decried the "partisanship" that has emerged since the attacks, and said that the country instead needs "statesmanship." She added that she has a plan to deal with the threat of a "lone wolf," and insisted that the country's relationships and resources were sufficient.
"We have to admit it s complex challenge, but we are absolutely up to facing it," Clinton added.
The Orlando shooter's use of an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon has sparked a new conversation about gun control, an issue that has become a major part of Clinton's presidential campaign. In the interviews, she focused heavily on inadequate gun-control laws, which, she said, is allowing dangerous individuals and terrorists to use "weapons of war" to kill Americans.
"We know the gunman used a weapon of war to shoot down at least 50 innocent Americans, and we won’t even be able to get Congress to prevent terrorists or people from the no-fly list from buying guns," Clinton said on CNN's "New Day." "This is just totally incomprehensible."
She faulted Florida's gun laws, which she outlined as too lax, but did not say specifically which new regulations would have prevented the gunman in Orlando from buying his weapon.
"We’ve got to get back to common-sense gun safety reform, and we can’t fall into the trap that is set up by the gun lobby that says if you can’t stop every shooting and every incident you should not try to stop any," Clinton said. "I’m going to be as firm and strong and single-minded as going after ISIS as anyone could be."