Hillary Clinton suggested in a television interview in Israel, broadcast on Thursday, that the Islamic State is “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory” and that terrorists are praying, “Please, Allah, make Trump president of America.”
Speaking with Israel’s Channel 2, Mrs. Clinton said that by singling out Muslims during his campaign, Mr. Trump had played into the hands of extremists and helped their recruitment efforts, in effect “giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions.”
The stark language was aimed at undercutting Mr. Trump’s support among those who see him as stronger on national security and deflecting critics who have complained that Mrs. Clinton and President Obama do not take the threat of radical Islam seriously enough. The suggestion that an enemy of the United States might favor an opponent’s election was once a red line in American politics, but in a year of bombastic charges and countercharges, there seem to be few lines left.
Mrs. Clinton’s assertion came in response to a question from the anchor Yonit Levi about why she does not use the term “war on radical Islam,” a frequent critique from the political right in both America and Israel. Mrs. Clinton responded that drawing Islam into the equation “actually serves the purpose of the radical jihadists.”
To make her point, she cited an article for Time magazine by Matthew G. Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, arguing that the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, is working “to advocate for Trump,” as he put it.
“I found it even surprising how clear and compelling the case was where he quoted ISIS spokespeople rooting for Donald Trump’s victory because Trump has made Islam and Muslims a part of his campaign and basically Matt Olsen argues that the jihadists see this as a great gift,” Mrs. Clinton said. “They are saying, ‘Oh, please Allah, make Trump president of America.’”
She added: “So I’m not interested in giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions. I want to defeat them. I want to end their reign of terror. I don’t want them to feel as though they can be getting more recruits because of our politics.”
In 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney was criticized for making a softer version of a similar argument against John Kerry, the Democratic nominee challenging President George W. Bush. In a campaign appearance, he said it was “absolutely essential” that Americans “make the right choice” in the election “because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again.”
Democrats complained about what they called “scare tactics,” and Mr. Cheney’s own aides worried that he had gone too far. But when they went to him to ask that he walk back the line, Mr. Cheney refused. “That is what I meant,” he told them.
In her interview, Mrs. Clinton defended Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which was widely panned here by Israeli leaders, but said reports of friction between the president and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were overstated. She noted various ways she had supported Israel over the years, but made no commitments to involve herself deeply in a renewed peace process.
Asked if she would assign her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who remains popular here, to serve as a special envoy to the region, Mrs. Clinton demurred, saying she was not making appointments during the campaign.