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SourceShihezinews    Updated2020-06-06 05:21:08

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  After the recent shooting in Orlando, US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are espousing two competing narratives as explanation for the incident, in hope to control the agenda in the presidential race, experts said.

  The Clinton campaign described the shooting at the Orlando gay club that left 50 dead as the worst mass shooting attack in the nation's history, while the Trump team called it a terrorist attack.

  While the gunman, Omar Marteen, had allegedly pledged allegiance to the terror group Islamic State (IS), he used legally purchased firearms to carry out the attack, highlighting an ongoing argument over gun control.

  Just a day after the horrid attack on June 12, Clinton cited the need to tackle terrorism but also put a great deal of emphasis on gun control, sounding a familiar tone geared toward her support base.

  On the same day, Trump said terrorism needs to be crushed in order to keep the country safe. He also doubled down on his call for curbing immigration from countries related to terrorism.

  "The fight over the Orlando attack is a battle for agenda control," said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution.

  Trump wants the election to center on terrorism, which is a good area for him. It plays to his argument that the world is chaotic and full of disorder and America needs a strong leader who can restore some order, West said.

  In comparison, Clinton wants the election to focus on gun control and the need to protect endangered citizens from deranged people.

  "Both arguments resonate with the American public, which is why the parties are fighting so hard over the competing narratives," West said.

  Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said that this is "a predictable difference" that plays into the basic arguments that each campaign has made about these kinds of attacks.

  For Democrats, the only way to seriously go after lone wolf attackers is to combine national security programs with policy that will limit access to weapons.

  Republicans, who are reluctant to support any gun control, keep the focus on terrorist networks, Zelizer said.

  Oddly, each argument seems geared toward each candidate's base, at a time when analysts say the election may well be decided by independent voters, which means each candidate would do well to reach out to the middle.

  It is hard to predict which one will be most effective. Clinton holds a slim lead over Trump in polls, but each time there is a major terrorist attack, Trump gains a few points.

  "So the question is whether there will continue to be terrorist attacks within the United States that push more voters to Trump's side," West said.

  Indeed, while Trump came out strong against terror the day after the gruesome attack, he called for a ban on immigration from countries linked to terrorism later in the speech.

  Many said the brash New York businessman shot himself in the foot with those remarks, as he may have ruined a golden opportunity to be seen as a capable leader in the fight against terrorism.

  The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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