MINNEAPOLIS – Less than an hour before Republican presidential hopefuls were set to hold their latest debate, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the American people "cannot give in to fear" — a message she touted as part of her strategy for homeland security and preventing a domestic terrorist attack.
Speaking at the University of Minnesota, Clinton attacked Republican rivals, saying that promises by GOP candidates "to carpet bomb until the desert glows doesn't make you sound strong, it makes you sound like you are in over your head."
"Shallow slogans don't add up to a strategy," she said. "Bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander in chief."
The former secretary of state's speech addressed proactive steps for capping Islamic State recruitment in the U.S., especially online, and for stopping potential jihadists from training overseas. Her campaign billed the speech as a "360-degree strategy to keep America safe."
Clinton sought to assure Americans that she would keep them safe following attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, incidents that have thrust terrorism to the forefront of the presidential campaign. She talked about ways to stop foreign fighters from entering the U.S., discover and disrupt plots before they can be carried out, work more closely with law enforcement agencies and empower Muslim-American communities, her campaign said.
Clinton planned to say the nation needs a comprehensive strategy to address every step in the process that could lead to an attack like the one that occurred in San Bernardino, including recruitment, training, planning and execution.
She believes the next president must push back against terrorism in a way that remains consistent with the nation's values.
As President Barack Obama's former secretary of state, Clinton holds direct ties to the White House's national security policies and has largely endorsed the president's approach to dismantling the Islamic State group. Like Obama, Clinton has said she would not send American ground troops to the Middle East, saying it would provide a recruiting tool for IS.
But Republicans view Obama's handling of foreign policy and terrorism as a weakness and have tried to link Clinton to the president's record, arguing that his policies in the Middle East allowed terrorist groups to flourish since the drawdown of troops in Iraq.
In Minneapolis, Clinton planned to point to local efforts in the Twin Cities to combat terror recruiting, particularly among the state's Somali population, the largest in the United States.
Authorities have said about a dozen Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to join jihadist groups since late 2013, and several more have tried. Just last week, a ninth Minnesota man was arrested on a charge of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State group. Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men have traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the group al-Shabab.
Somalis in Minnesota have tried to stop the recruiting with strong anti-terror messages and programs aimed at creating opportunities.
Minneapolis is one of three cities participating in a Justice Department pilot program that seeks to combat terror recruiting by engaging young people in their communities through mentorship, youth leadership opportunities and other initiatives.