Republican 2016 hopefuls are placing the blame for North Korea’s reported nuclear bomb test on the shoulders of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Several candidates took to Twitter late Tuesday after North Korea’s announcement that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in the northern part of the country near China. The state-run news channel KCNA reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “made the final decision” on Sunday to test the bomb this week, though the U.S. along with other world powers have not confirmed a nuclear weapon has gone off.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s criticism went beyond Obama and Hillary Clinton, pointing fingers at President Bill Clinton as the root of the problem.
“The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea, they used the billions of dollars that flowed into North Korea to develop nuclear weapons,” he said at a campaign stop in Iowa. “Now we're facing a megalomaniac maniac who may potentially have a hydrogen bomb.”
Rubio also hit former President Clinton for almost giving a speech in North Korea while his wife was still secretary of state.
On the campaign trail on Wednesday, several candidates responded by recommending an overall improvement in Asia-Pacific relations as a start to easing tensions abroad.
Jeb Bush said the U.S must consider the news a “serious” threat and suggests the U.S. reach out to China for help.
“We need to challenge China to deal with its client state,” he said before recommending more sanctions on North Korea. “I mean this is a huge danger and if they have the long range missile capability to deliver that weapon that is a direct threat to the United States.”
Rubio outlined a four-step plan proposing that the U.S. put North Korea back on the state terror list, add more sanctions against the communist country, and rebuild military alliances in the region with an increased missile defense.
Sen. Rand Paul, who has been called an isolationist by opponents, advised the U.S. to approach the situation with caution and heed advice from regional powers.
“What I am saying is there are no easy solutions,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “The only thing we have in our favor is that socialism is an abysmal failure.”
Frontrunner Donald Trump also recommended China and South Korea get involved, warning that Jong Un is “getting too close to doing something.”
"China has total control, believe me, they say they don't, they have total control over North Korea, and China should solve that problem, and if they don't solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult with China," Trump said on "Fox and Friends.”
Cruz and Fiorina both warned that North Korea’s actions could send a message to Iran, who they fear will violate their nuclear deal with the U.S. inked last year.
Sec. Hillary Clinton expressed her condemnation against North Korea, agreeing with Republicans to increase sanctions against the country and China.
“North Korea's goal is to blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime. We can't give in to or in any way encourage this kind of bullying,” she said in a statement. “Instead, we should increase pressure and send Pyongyang an unmistakable message that its nuclear brinksmanship won't succeed.”