The Cable

Battleground ’16: Clinton and Trump’s Terror Politics

When bombs rocked New York, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sharpened commander-in-chief arguments into attacks. To go by the rhetoric on the trail, what's next feels far from President Obama's campaign theme of hope.

ESTERO, FL - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump raises his fist as he exits after speaking during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena on September 19, 2016 in Estero, Florida. Trump is locked in a tight race against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida as the November 8th election nears. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“A nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.”

President Obama was addressing the United Nations General Assembly, but really, he spoke to Republican nominee Donald Trump, and those attracted to an apocalyptic vision of a world in which the United States and other countries retreat behind barriers of isolationism, trade tariffs, immigration control, and class. He represents a threat to the world order, Obama argued — and, it just so happens, his legacy.

When bombs rocked New York, where Obama spoke, just a few days before, and authorities arrested and charged a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton sharpened their argument about fitness to be commander-in-chief. My opponent is endangering you, both said, and only I can make you safe.

Even in an election marked by terrorist attacks across the world and in the United States, elevating national security as a campaign issue, their language was stark.

The ratcheting up of fearsome rhetoric is unlikely to fade heading into the first debate and the final weeks of both the election and Obama’s presidency. To go by the campaign-trail rhetoric, what lies in store feels very far from hope.

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.


Trump Gives Ukraine Cold Shoulder in New York

Petro Poroshenko sent a request to meet both U.S. presidential candidates. But only Clinton has sat down with the Ukrainian president.



“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.”

— Wrigley, the company that makes Skittles, responding to Donald Trump, Jr. Trump tweeted an image of a bowl of the candy with a caption that read: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” The image he used, without permission, was a photograph taken by a refugee.



‘A Nation Ringed by Walls Would Only Imprison Itself’

In his final U.N. address, President Obama pleads with world leaders to keep global borders, markets, and minds open.

As the 2016 election fast approaches, President Barack Obama increasingly is looking to — and fighting for — his legacy. He used his last speech before the United Nations to make an impassioned plea for an open world order — even as walls rise against refugees, protectionism makes a comeback, and cold wars with authoritarian states heat up.



Despite Bombings, Advocates Still Hope for More Visas for Afghan Interpreters

A program to speed visas for Afghan interpreters working for U.S. troops during the war may be under threat after New York’s bomb attack by a U.S. citizen with Afghan roots.




Hillary Clinton’s lead on Donald Trump among likely voters, according to an NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll out Tuesday and conducted Sept. 12-18, a period including the attacks in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey.



Trump Invites Himself to Egypt Despite Wanting to Ban Muslims From the U.S.

The Republican nominee takes another swing at being a statesman by meeting with Cairo’s controversial leader.

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.

Photo credit: Joe Raedle / Staff

Molly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian. @mollymotoole

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola