US President Barack Obama on Tuesday blasted Republicans who have accused him of being reluctant to directly address the terrorist threat and criticized Donald Trump for his proposal to ban Muslim immigrants.
Republicans have criticized Obama for not using the phrase "radical Islam" when discussing terrorism. Obama called the discussion over his refusal to use the phrase a "political distraction" that would not change the US fight against terrorism.
"There's no magic to the phrase radical Islam. It's a political talking point, it's not a strategy," Obama said after meeting with his national security team to discuss the fight against Islamic State militants.
Obama insisted he had been clear that extremists had perverted Islam and that his goal was to be clear that the United States was not targeting all Muslims.
He said "loose talk and sloppiness" had led to proposals by Trump to ban all Muslims and implicating entire communities in violence.
"Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that's not the America we want," Obama said.
Giving into calls to single out Muslims would be an abandonment of US values and allow the terrorists to win, he said. "We would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect."
A terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has prompted a round of finger pointing on US terrorism policy, with Trump renewing calls Monday for a ban on Muslim immigration in order to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country. The gunman in Sunday's attack was a US-born citizen whose parents had come to the country from Afghanistan.