Donald Trump: waterboarding not ‘tough enough’ against Isis

Polls show Clinton beating Trump on ability to handle terrorism but a tighter race overall

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump: “Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads?” Photograph: Keith Srakocic/AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that "waterboarding" may not be a "tough enough" to tackle terrorism, escalating his rhetoric in the aftermath of the attacks on Istanbul's Ataturk airport in Turkey.

The New York billionaire's reaction to the latest attack stood in contrast to Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic rival in November's presidential election. She stressed the importance of deeper co-operation with US allies in the Middle East.

Mr Trump argued for tougher tactics against Islamic State, also known as Isis, the militant group suspected of attacking the Turkish airport, saying that waterboarding, a simulated form of drowning controversially used by the US against terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks and since banned, was "peanuts compared to many alternatives".

The Republican presumptive nominee has throughout his presidential campaign pushed for more enhanced interrogation methods to be used against terror suspects, eager to appear tough on terrorism in his bid to be the US commander-in-chief.


"You have to fight fire with fire," Mr Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Ohio on Tuesday night. "We have to be so strong. We have to fight so viciously, and violently because we're dealing with violent people viciously."

The property developer and reality-TV star lambasted the US response to terrorism, portraying President Barack Obama as being weak on terrorism.

“They eat dinner like us,” said Mr Trump of Isis militants. “Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads?”

He continued: “They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership. You know, we have to fight fire with fire.”

Solidarity with Turkey

Mrs Clinton issued a statement calling for solidarity with Turkey, an ally of the US, and other


allies “against this campaign of hatred and violence”.

The attack “only strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world,” she said.

Deeper co-operation with the country’s allies in the Middle East was “essential to protecting the homeland and keeping our country safe,” she said.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday, carried out before the attack in Turkey, found that Mrs Clinton could be trusted more to handle terrorism, leading Mr Trump by 50 per cent to 39 per cent. Her lead on the issue has grown since the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida which left 49 people dead at the hands of a lone gunman.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University found Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump to be in a much tighter race for the US presidency than recent polls have shown. The poll shows her leading by just two points, by 42 per cent to 40 per cent.

This latest survey from the poll-tracking university is at odds with other polls in recent days showing Mrs Clinton extending her lead. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday gave Mrs Clinton a 46 per cent to 41 per cent lead.

Another poll, by the Washington Post and ABC News, also released on Sunday, gave Mrs Clinton a double-digit lead of 51 per cent to 39 per cent.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times