CBS's John Dickerson Asks Democratic Candidates If They Use The Phrase "Radical Islam," None Will

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At the second DNC presidential debate, CBS News's John Dickerson asked the three Democratic candidates whether they can defeat "radical islam" without using the phrase.

DICKERSON: You have been making the case when you talk about lack of forward vision, you're essentially saying that Secretary Clinton lacks that vision and this critique matches up with this discussion of language. The critique is that the softness of language betrays a softness of approach. So if this language -- if you don't call it by what it is, how can your approach be effective to the cause? That's the critique.

Full transcript:

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned radical jihadists. Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed and the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?

CLINTON: 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 who have --

DICKERSON: Just to interrupt. He didn't say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don't...

CLINTON: I think THAT you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists, but I think it's not particularly helpful to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with, that we've got to reach out to Muslim countries.

We've got to have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut 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 be painting with too broad a brush.

DICKERSON: The reason I ask is you gave a speech at Georgetown University in which you said, that it was important to show, quote, "respect, even for one's enemies. Trying to understand and in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view." Can you explain what that means in the context of this kind of barbarism?

CLINTON: I think with this kind of barbarism and nihilism, it's very hard to understand, other than the lust for power, the rejection of modernity, the total disregard for human rights, freedom, or any other value that we know and respect.

Historically, it is important to try to understand your adversary in order to figure out how they are thinking, what they will be doing, how they will react. I plead that it's very difficult when you deal with ISIS and organizations like that whose behavior is so barbaric and so vicious that it doesn't seem to have any purpose other than lust for killing and power and that's very difficult to put ourselves in the other shoe.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: Just quickly, do either of you, radical Islam, do either of you use that phrase?

SANDERS: I don't think the term is what's important. What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or Al Qaida, who do believe we should go back several thousand years. We should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted, that they are a danger to modern society.

And that this world, with American leadership, can and must come together to destroy them. We can do that. And it requires an entire world to come together, including in a very active way, the Muslim nations.

DICKERSON: Governor O' Malley, you have been making the case when you talk about lack of forward vision, you're essentially saying that Secretary Clinton lacks that vision and this critique matches up with this discussion of language. The critique is that the softness of language betrays a softness of approach. So if this language -- if you don't call it by what it is, how can your approach be effective to the cause? that's the critique.

O' MALLEY: I believe calling it what it is, is to say radical jihadis. That's calling it what it is. But John, let's not fall into the trap of thinking that all of our Muslim American neighbors in this country are somehow our enemies here. They are our first line of defense.

And we are going to be able to defeat ISIS on the ground there, as well as in this world, because of the Muslim Americans in our country and throughout the world who understand that this brutal and barbaric group is perverting the name of a great world religion. And now, like never before, we need our Muslim American neighbors to stand up and to -- and to be a part of this.

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