(CNSNews.com) - Criticized by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for failing to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," Hillary Clinton said "it's a mistake" to do that, and she accused Cruz of trying to "stir" things up.
"You know, I call it radical jihadist terrorism because, you know, it is clearly rooted in Islamic thinking that, you know, has to be contested first and foremost by Muslims around the world," Clinton told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.
"George W. Bush said it, that to, you know, do anything that implies we are at war with an entire religion, with...1.2 or 4 billion people is not only wrong, it is dangerous.
"You know, right here at home, we need to be reaching out and including Muslim Americans and communities where they live in our first line of defense. We don't need them to feel that if they hear something or see something that they can't report it. We want them to report it. We want them to be part of our protecting the United States, and the same goes for Europe.
"So, you know, I think these debates about semantics really misses the point."
Clinton noted that she was involved in "the most important counter-terrorism effort of the last eight years" -- the decision to go after Osama bin Laden. "I think I understand the stakes," she said. "I also think I understand that we will be more effective in defeating radical jihadism and defeating ISIS and all of the other terrorist groups if we have coalitions with nations that are predominantly Muslim.
"And I don't think that you get that kind of cooperation that I'm looking for -- deep, intense, long-lasting cooperation -- by playing these semantic games. Let's work at preventing the terrorists, let's isolate them from the vast majority of Muslims and let's defeat them and do everything we can to protect America, Europe and our other friends and partners around the world."
Both Cruz and Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. must stop the inflow of refugees from countries with a major Islamic State or al-Qaeda presence. Cruz also said law enforcement in the United States must be empowered "to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
'People talk about Libya'
In her interview with Blitzer, Clinton also rejected Donald Trump's call to rethink how much money the U.S. contributes to NATO.
"Look, I'm a very strong supporter of NATO, it's the best international defense alliance I think ever," Clinton said. "We have to keep adjusting and changing its mission to meet the new threats that we, as members of NATO, face."
Cllinton also said she would look at forming "the kind of defense relationship with other nations like we did in Libya."
"You know, people talk about Libya, they forget what Gaddafi was threatening," Clinton said. "They also forget we put together a coalition between NATO and the Arab League. The United States did not lose a single person in that effort. We did depose a very threatening presence, who I think would be creating a situation much more akin to Syria where we have seen Assad supported by Iran and Russia wreak havoc in his own country and really be the source of a lot of the difficulties of terrorists taking over territory, of millions of refugees fleeing.
"So, you have to look at each of these and you have to have a historic context and understanding, and I'm a supporter of NATO. I want to make sure it's modernized and that it does it's part in helping us defeat the enemies of today, not just yesterday."
Cruz: 'Empower Law Enforcement to Patrol and Secure Muslim Neighborhoods Before They Become Radicalized'
Trump: 'They're Coming Into Our Country...And Just Watch What Happens'