By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign accused the White House of downplaying the threat poised by Islamic State, seeking to lay blame following a series of weekend bomb and other incidents.
“Diminishing the threat the Obama administration has allowed to materialise on its watch puts us all at risk and is another reminder that we need new leadership in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement.
Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, will hold a news conference on Monday morning to address the attack.
The statement followed a weekend in which a bomb went off in New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood, injuring 29 people, and another explosive device was found nearby. As many as six explosive devices were found in nearby Elizabeth, New Jersey, and a pipe bomb exploded near a New Jersey shore town further south.
In another incident, a man stabbed nine people at a central Minnesota mall on Saturday before being shot dead by an off-duty policeman. On Sunday, Islamic State claimed responsibility, calling the man “a soldier,” and the FBI said it was investigating the attack as a potential act of terrorism. Reuters could not verify the claim of responsibility.
Since the bomb exploded on Saturday night in Chelsea, Clinton and Trump have exchanged criticism about who would best handle the nation’s security.
Trump was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for describing the explosion as a bomb shortly after the blast, before federal or New York City officials confirmed that as the cause.
Hours later, Clinton made her own public statement in which she appeared to scold Trump for commenting before officials were able to determine what caused the explosion.
Trump, who has based much of his campaign message on arguing that the United States is no longer safe and that he alone can protect the nation, told Fox News on Monday morning that he expects more attacks.
“I think this is something that maybe will … happen more and more all over the country,” Trump told Fox News.
Asked if he was saying there would be more attacks, he replied, “Yeah, because we’ve been weak. Our country’s been weak.”
Trump has sought to tie Clinton to the decisions of the Obama administration, pointing to the four years she served as the Democratic president’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
“Hillary Clinton has backed President Obama’s failed ISIS strategy to the hilt, and voters should know whether she too shares the White House’s troubling assessment of the situation,” spokesman Miller said.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)