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Cruz Won't Back Down on Carpet Bombing ISIS

Cruz Won’t Back Down on Carpet Bombing ISIS
Image: Republican Presidential Candidates Debate In Iowa Days Before State's Caucus
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participates in the Fox News - Google GOP Debate January 28, 2016 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Republican presidential candidates on Thursday offered full-throated vows to stop ISIS. But in a nationally televised debate on Fox News, they laid out clear differences in how to do so.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been criticized for vowing on the campaign trail to “carpet bomb” ISIS, said Thursday that he will “apologize to nobody” for that promise.

“It is not tough talk, it is a different fundamental military strategy than what we’ve seen from Barack Obama,” Cruz said. Cruz appealed to the example of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, which he said featured a higher rate of air strikes.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the threat from ISIS “extraordinary and unprecedented” and said the group “needs to be confronted.”

Rubio did not offer many specifics, though he criticized the Obama administration for its current strategy. “They’re not going to be turned into stockbrokers overnight,” Rubio said of ISIS fighters.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called on arming Kurdish fighters and creating a Sunni Arab force in Syria to confront ISIS.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich took aim at Cruz’s calling on the example of the 1991 Gulf War, adding that in addition to launching an air campaign, the US created a broad coalition of forces to confront the Saddam Hussein regime.

“If we want to destroy ISIS, it has to be in the air and on the ground,” Kasich said.

Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian who has called for less military intervention overseas, warned that toppling Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad was the wrong approach to confronting ISIS. A civil war has raged in that country for nearly five years.

“What we really need to do is defeat ISIS, but if you defeat Assad, what you will wind up with is a larger and more powerful ISIS that will occupy that space,” Paul said.

ISIS has made its headquarters inside the Syria.

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