AMES, Iowa — A crop of Republican 2016 hopefuls offered varying advice for how to handle the situation in Iraq, but all called on President Obama to offer a more coherent and comprehensive explanation of his plans going forward.
While most of the would-be presidential candidates said they support Obama’s decision to authorize targeted air strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, they called on him to outline his foreign policy vision as it relates to Iraq and the Middle East more broadly.
Five Republicans — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — addressed the issue with reporters following their respective speeches at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, a gathering of religious conservatives.
Cruz called on Obama to seek authorization from Congress should the air strikes continue, calling the rise of ISIS the “latest manifestation of the failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy” and saying the congressional authorization process would help force Obama to “articulate a clear military objective.”
ISIS is “the face of evil,” he said. “I’m glad that President Obama is finally beginning to take the threat of ISIS seriously.”
Their comments came just days after the Obama administration announced the air strikes, with the president writing in a letter to Congress that the strikes would be “limited in scope and duration.” Over the course of the daylong event, the 2016 prospects and other speakers blasted Obama’s overall foreign policy leadership on issues ranging from ISIS and Iraq to the U.S. relationship with Israel.
Santorum said Obama should have used his “incredible powers of persuasion” to keep more troops in Iraq in 2011.
“It’s stunning that they fall back on that it wasn’t their fault,” Santorum said. “I just think that’s false.”
Huckabee did not think additional ground forces were necessary, but said the United States should be arming Kurdish forces directly.
“Should we have ground forces? No, we don’t need them,” Huckabee said. “”¦If we had good sense, we would arm the Kurds as we said we would.”
In his speech to the crowd of religious conservative activists, Perry criticized Obama’s overseas outlook as a whole, saying his foreign policy is “absolutely — it’s not distinguishable from anything.”
Jindal praised Obama’s decision to order the air strikes, saying it helped prevent “the imminent slaughter” of Christians and other religious minorities, but that Obama has yet to explain a “coherent” foreign policy.
“One of the things that frustrates me, we’ve still not heard a coherent strategy when it comes to dealing with ISIS,” he said. “I think [Obama] owes it to the American people, he owes it to our troops in uniform, to define what the strategic vision is, what the strategic plan is.”
What We're Following See More »
Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.
Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."
Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."
Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs."
As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."