The Republican presidential candidates may not agree on a whole lot of issues, but Sunday evening, they found some common ground. Universally, they panned President Obama's Oval Office address.
Front-runner businessman Donald Trump posted live comments to his social media platforms during the speech. In the end, he said, "Is that all there is? We need a new president—FAST!"
He also blasted the president for using the acronym ISIL—which implies the Islamic group has control of Lebanon and Israel—instead of ISIS, and his refusal to say the nation is at war with "radical Islamic terrorists."
Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke Sunday at a church in Des Moines, made no official comments about the president's speech. His social media platforms were silent about it, as well.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been moving upward in the polls of late, was the first to officially respond to the address, accusing Obama of making a "partisan speech." He then said that if he is elected president, he will direct the nation's military to destroy ISIS.
"On Dec. 7, 1941, in response to Pearl Harbor, FDR did not give a partisan speech, rather he called on Americans to unite and 'win through to absolute victory,'" he said. "If I am elected president, I will direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS. And I will shut down the broken immigration system that is letting jihadists into our country. Nothing President Obama said tonight will assist in either case."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has been a popular guest on TV and radio this past week, went on FOX News to respond to the president's speech. He said Americans are scared, not because of the attacks, but because of a president who is "completely overwhelmed" by them.
He said Obama was sticking to a strategy that had gotten America to where it is now, and that the president was touting a coalition of nations fighting against ISIS that doesn't exist. He then criticized the president's call for more gun control, and for "cynicism" in warning against the discrimination of Muslims—which Rubio says isn't a widespread problem in the U.S.
"Nothing that happened in the speech tonight is going to assuage people's fears," he said. "I am very disappointed tonight. I think not only did the president not make things better tonight, I fear he may have made things worse in the minds of many Americans."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Obama was forced to "abandon the political fantasy he has perpetrated for years" that terrorism's threat has been receding. He said self-imposed constraints on the intelligence community and military need to be removed, and a new strategy adopted that will defeat ISIS and "radical Islamic terrorism."
"Unfortunately, neither he nor Hillary Clinton has the resolve to put in place such a strategy," he said. "This is the war of our time. It should not be business as usual. We need a wartime commander in chief who is ready to lead this country and the free world to victory."
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina called the speech "Vintage Obama." She said the speech lacked strategy and leadership, and called it "politics as usual." Her campaign then released video of a previous stump speech in which she laid out her plan to defeat ISIS.
"In order to defeat ISIS, we must be willing to call it what it is: Islamic extremism," she said. She then said this is a fight that must be waged by the Islamic nations of the Middle East, with support from the United States.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.) also weighed in on the Oval Office address, saying it was a continuation of Obama's "failed leadership and his outrageous quest to turn a necessary discussion on terrorism and national security into an unnecessary and ineffective gun control debate." He added there should be more concealed carry for law-abiding citizens, an end to gun-free zones and a review—and possible reform—of border security and immigration policies.
"There are answers here to make our nation safe, but once again, the president seems incapable of finding and implementing them," he said. "His administration is focused on gun laws that will not stop terrorists, while pushing policies that will let more of them into the country. It is 100 percent wrong and proves the need for new leadership in the White House."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that under Obama's watch, ISIS has expanded its reach while he called it "the JV team," assured Americans it was contained, and lectured Americans about politics that "have nothing to do with defeating terrorism." He said the president is more interested in gun control than the elimination of radical Islam.
"The Obama administration's policies have only weakened America's reputation worldwide and emboldened ISIS," he said. "I don't know why this president can't say, 'They are our enemy. We are going to eradicate them before they have the opportunity to keep killing us.' We must stand up to radical Islamic terrorism before another American life is lost, and President Obama is clearly not up to the job."
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) also commented on the president's speech, saying that for nearly seven years, the Obama administration has been an "abject failure" in defining, confronting and ultimately defeating the radical Islamist threat facing the U.S. He said radical Islam seeks to destroy our way of life and derives its power from the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
"Sharia Law and the desires of radical Islam are diametrically opposed to the values of America and they cannot co-exist," he said. "This is a fact, and the president has refused to level with the American public. Our commander in chief must be willing to level the hard truth of who this enemy is, what motivates them and the strategy needed to destroy it."
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