Obama acknowledged the debate on Wednesday.
Administration officials say focusing on extremists’ Islamic ideologies would only bolster the terrorists’ narrative that the U.S. is at war with Islam.
But Gabbard doesn’t appear to buy that argument. She has leveled criticism similar to this week’s more than half a dozen times.
“The administration still has not accurately identified our enemy,” she said in January after the president’s State of the Union address. “We must acknowledge that 9/11, as well as the recent violent attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world, are rooted in Islamic extremism.”
A few days later, she asserted that the president and his cabinet are “completely missing the point of this radical Islamic ideology that’s fueling these people.”
In a Fox News appearance, she called Obama’s mentality toward the extremists, “mind-boggling.”
Some say it’s just semantics. Gabbard doesn’t agree.
“This is not just about words,” she said last month on Fox News. “It’s really about having a real, true understanding of who our enemy is.”
At an Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month, Gabbard repeatedly pushed Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart to identify terrorist intent.
“I think it’s important… that this identification of their motivation of this radical Islamic ideology is made very distinctly,” she told Stewart.
Although Gabbard has explicitly rejected the notion of a “religious war,” she said she believes labeling terrorists “Islamic extremists” could help non-Muslims see the divide between the peaceful Muslims and the radicals.
“This is clearly a war against this very specific faction of radical Islamic ideology,” Gabbard told Fox News.
“The president’s public description of ISIS (or anything else, for that matter) serves as no necessary predicate for successful action of any kind,” the editorial board wrote this week.
Gabbard, who declined through a spokesman to comment to ABC News, has said publicly that her attitude toward Obama’s rhetoric is just a natural outgrowth of her military background.
“Military 101,” she said on Fox News. “If you are at war - which we are - you have to know who your enemy is to defeat them.”