It didn’t take very long for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump to shed the cloak of restraint and go straight to using the Orlando shootings to bolster his run.
He was untypically restrained in his first tweet, shortly after the shootings by Omar Mateen on Sunday: “Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded.”
There was no reference to “radical Islam”, unlike in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and Brussels when he shot off the block without waiting for details. On Monday, he waited.
His next tweet indicated where he was going: “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?”
That was a reference to his repeated call for the US to get tougher on terrorism, without offering a plan — other than “bombing the hell (occasionally s***) out of” the Islamic State.
In the next tweet, after an hour, Trump wheeled around to his usual self, and the restraint was gone: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”
He was in full election mode now, stoking Islamophobia as he has before, hitting all the buzzwords in the book that appeal to a certain section of his constituency, but not beyond.
Trump’s next tweet was based on reports that remain unconfirmed, “Reporting that Orlando killer shouted ’Allah hu Akbar!’ as he slaughtered clubgoers …”
But the Republican nominee wouldn’t let facts come in his way, as many times before. His intention was to stoke fear, play on the sense of outrage and insecurity being felt all around.
“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.”