Clinton denounces ‘panic, fear’ after Brussels attack, rebukes GOP

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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWeld wins Libertarian nomination for VP Sanders supporter challenges Wyo. delegate allocation Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals MORE obliquely attacked her Republican presidential rivals on Thursday during a conversation in Los Angeles.

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In an apparent attempt to offer a stark contrast to the fiery rhetoric of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump thought biker rally crowd would resemble ‘I Have a Dream’ speech Weld wins Libertarian nomination for VP Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals MORE and Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzDems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals Meet the billionaire donor behind Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Party chairs see reversal of fortune MORE (R-Texas), Clinton pleaded for a rejection of “the messages of negativity, of exclusion, of discrimination” during a roundtable at the University of Southern California.

“We like to say in my campaign that love trumps hate,” she said in reference to the GOP front-runner. “And we will look for ways to put that into practice and action.

“We cannot allow our nation to be pitting groups of people against one another,” she added. “We cannot give in to panic and fear.”

Clinton did not mention either Trump or Cruz by name. But her comments were clearly aimed at the aggressive proposals they have both put forth in the two days since bombs exploded in Brussels, killing at least 34 people. 

Both GOP candidates have called for U.S. law enforcement officials to monitor and “secure” American Muslim communities out of concerns that they will breed extremism.

Trump has also used the attacks to reiterate his support for re-legalization of waterboarding, as well as for new, tough border controls. Cruz, meanwhile, has restated his plea to stop Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S.

The violence in Europe is likely to pivot the presidential race to national security, following similar attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., roughly an hour from Clinton’s roundtable on Thursday.

But Clinton attempted to undercut American anxiety about the prospect of terrorism coming to U.S. shores by instead focusing on a taxi driver who alerted police after dropping the three extremists off at Brussels’s Zaventem airport.

“This gentleman, of Moroccan origin, heard about the attacks and immediately wondered whether the three passengers he had taken to the airport that day, which he thought were somewhat strange-acting, could have been involved,” she said.

“Just as we did in New York after 9/11 — urging every community to be part of our common defense and saying, ‘If you see something or hear something suspicious to report it’ — this gentlemen did exactly that,” she added, “and led the police to what seemed to be a stronghold of terrorists.

“I mention that because I think it’s important for all of us to recognize and then to affirm the common defense that we are committed to in our country.”

The Democratic front-runner was more direct on Wednesday, accusing Trump and Cruz by name of using “offensive, inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes all Muslims." 

Republicans have tied Tuesday’s attacks to the continued growth of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which they claim Obama administration has failed to curb. 

“Hillary Clinton and President Obama have been wrong about ISIS at every turn, which has resulted in more attacks and a more dangerous world,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.   

“We need a president who will take a fundamentally different approach to defeat radical Islamic terrorists, not someone like Hillary Clinton who dangerously believes we ‘finally are where we need to be,’” he added, referring to a widely criticized quote from December.

Clinton appeared at Thursday’s roundtable with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and local public safety and civil rights advocates.  

“This is a time in which we need leadership that understands why these problems come about and what we can do at the local level to ensure that the United States and every community is safe,” said Garcetti, who has endorsed Clinton for president.

“Secretary Clinton is somebody who understands this, I think, at a very deep level.”