Obama discussed terrorism much more in 2015 than in any year of his presidency, averaging nearly two times per day

barackobama20In the hours and days after the ISIS attacks in Paris, Barack Obama made several statements about terrorism, both in remarks at the White House and during his subsequent trip abroad to Turkey and the Philippines as well as in a proclamation he issued honoring the victims of the attacks.

However, recent public opinion polls show Americans do not approve of how Barack Obama has handled ISIS and the president’s critics continue to admonish him for not drawing a clearer line between terrorism and radical Islam.

While the president may not be taking the kind of action in the Middle East preferred by some quarters in the political arena, it cannot be said that Obama is not at least speaking about the issue – and now more than ever.

In fact, although words alone are not policy solutions, the president has made terrorism increasingly front and center in his public statements in recent years– and is doing so now more than ever.

A Smart Politics content analysis of Barack Obama’s remarks and written statements finds the president has mentioned terrorism more than 3,000 times since taking office and has done so at a rate of nearly twice a day in 2015 – more than any year of his presidency.

Smart Politics examined the Public Papers of the President and tallied every mention of terrorism and related words (terror, terrorist, terrorize, counterterrorism, bioterrorism, antiterrorism, counterterrorist, narcoterrorist etc.).

From January 2009 through November 2015, President Obama has mentioned terrorism 3,011 times, or an average of 1.2 times per day in office.

That number has increased substantially since Obama’s reelection victory in 2012.

The president’s discussion of terrorism dropped each year in his first term from 436 mentions in 2009 (1.26 per day) to 421 in 2010 (1.15), 283 in 2011 (0.78), and 265 in 2012 (0.72).

Since then, mentions of terrorism in oral and written statements have increased to 465 times in 2013 (1.27 per day), to 546 in 2014 (1.50), and 595 thus far in 2015 (1.78).

In other words, with more than 13 months left in office, the president has already talked about terrorism more in his second term (1,585 mentions) than in his first (1,426).

That translates to 0.97 mentions of terrorism per day during Obama’s first term and 1.52 mentions per day ever since, or an increase of 57 percent.


Overall, Obama has mentioned terror in 938 different remarks and statements during his presidency including 94 news conferences, 42 interviews, 31 formal addresses, and 26 weekly addresses.

To be precise, the president has used the word “terrorist” 1,531 times with an additional 798 mentions of “terrorism,” 490 mentions of “counterterrorism,” 134 of “terror,” 40 of “terrorize,” eight of “antiterrorism,” seven of “bioterrorism,” two of “counterterrorist,” and one of “narcoterrorist.”

Of course, not all of the instances in which Obama addressed terrorism involved an extensive examination of the issue. In 453 of these 939 speeches and statements the president made only one such reference.

In many other statements, however, terror was the singular focus with 50 of his statements discussing terrorism at least 10 times.

For example, during remarks made at National Defense University on May 23, 2013, Obama referenced terrorism 50 times.

On February 18th of this year, the president mentioned terrorism 31 times in remarks at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

Obama’s attention to terrorism in public statements peaked in September 2014 with the rise of ISIS – mentioning the subject 194 times that month.

Overall President Obama has discussed terrorism 1,711 times in 583 oral remarks and 1,300 times in 355 written statements and messages.

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