CONWAY, S.C. — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Tuesday slammed Secretary of State John F. Kerry's comments that suggested that the terrorists who attacked a French satirical newspaper this year had "rationale."

Speaking to U.S. embassy personnel in Paris, Kerry said that the deadly attacks that occurred in the French capital last week were different than the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper last January.

In the newspaper attack, "there was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, 'okay, they're really angry because of this and that,'" Kerry told diplomats, according to a CNN report.

But the secretary called last Friday's deadly attacks "indiscriminate. It wasn't to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That's not an exaggeration."

Campaigning in South Carolina a few hours later, Bush recited Kerry's lines to about 300 college students and locals during a town hall meeting. He also noted that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has said that the U.S. should empathize with its enemies.

"Really? There should be no empathy. And there’s no rationale for barbaric Islamic terrorists who want to destroy western civilization," he said to cheers.

A State department spokesman defended Kerry's remarks:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry call the Paris attack organizers "psychopathic monsters." (Reuters)

In a December, 2014 speech, Clinton discussed her definition of "smart power" saying that it means "leaving no one on the sidelines. Showing respect even for one's enemies. Trying to understand, in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view. Helping to define the problems, determine the solutions. That is what we believe in the 21st century will change — change the prospects for peace."

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also seeking the GOP presidential nomination, called Kerry's comments "truly stupid."

Campaigning at Coastal Carolina University here, Bush also defended his calls to give a preference to Christian refugees from the Middle East.

"They’re not Islamic terrorists, they’re Christians who are being castigated, persecuted and sadly in some cases, beheaded because of their love for Jesus. Whether you’re religious or not, that should be something that I think should haunt us as a nation," he said.

Bush noted that President Obama criticized his stance while traveling in Turkey on Monday and suggested that the candidate didn't have sympathy for Muslims suffering from the violence.

"Well, I do," Bush said. "We all have sympathies for people who have been uprooted. ... But we have a duty to protect our country as well. And that’s the point."