Republican Candidates Hit Hillary Clinton on Question of Whether America is at War with 'Radical Islam'

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders (L), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley pose on stage ahead of the second official 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Des Moines, Iowa, November 14. Jim Young/Reuters

The Democratic debate on Saturday night began with a discussion of radical Islam, just hours after deadly attacks in Paris, which were carried out by the Islamic State, according to French officials.

CBS moderator John Dickerson asked frontrunner Hillary Clinton if she would characterize the war on terrorism as a war against "radical Islam," as some Republican candidates had done. Clinton offered this lengthy reply:

I don't think we're at war with Islam. I don't think we're at war with all Muslims. I think we're at war with jihadists. I think you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists but its not particularly helpful to make the case…that we've got to reach out to Muslim countries, have them be part of our coalition, if they hear people running for president who basically short cut it to say we are somehow against Islam. That was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, 'We are not at war with Islam or Muslims.' We are at war with violent extremism, we are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression, and yes we are at war with those people but I don't want us to paint with too broad a brush.

Bernie Sanders agreed, saying the "term" isn't important to the war. Martin O'Malley joined his Democratic counterparts in agreement, noting that Muslim-Americans are necessary allies in this battle.

Republican candidates quickly took to Twitter to disagree with Clinton (and the other two Democrats on stage):

Why won't President Obama use the term Islamic Terrorism? Isn't it now, after all of this time and so much death, about time!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2015

.@HillaryClinton has consistently failed to understand the depth of the ISIS threat. We need @JohnKasich's leadership. #DemDebate

— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 15, 2015

You're all grown up now. You can do it. Three words. Ten syllables. Say it with me: "Radical Islamic terrorism." #DemDebate

— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) November 15, 2015

We need a President who will see and speak and act on the truth...Hillary Clinton will not call this Islamic terrorism. I will.

— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) November 15, 2015

Yes, we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. #DemDebate

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 15, 2015

Yes, @HillaryClinton we are at war with radical Islam! You are not qualified to serve if you cannot even define our enemy! #DemDebate

— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) November 15, 2015

Several other Republican candidates had weighted in on the general topic prior to the debate on social media:

We need a President who is unafraid to name our enemy -- radical Islamic terrorism -- and will set out to defeat it.

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 14, 2015

We must destroy Radical Islam.

— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) November 14, 2015

The #ParisAttacks are a wake up call. This is a clash of civilizations. Either they win or we win.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 14, 2015

Trump also reacted to O'Malley referring to the GOP frontrunner as a "immigrant bashing carnival barker":

Hillary and Sanders are not doing well, but what is the failed former Mayor of Baltimore doing on that stage? O'Malley is a clown.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2015