TILTON, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush defended President Obama's decision to visit a mosque this week -- and suggested it should have happened sooner.
"I don’t think its divisive to go speak in a mosque, I’m surprised it took his eighth year to do it," he told reporters after visiting a diner here on Thursday.
The question came as two other GOP presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), this week questioned Obama's decision to visit a mosque in a Baltimore suburb.
Trump said on Fox News on Wednesday night that Obama might have visited the mosque because "maybe he feels comfortable there." Rubio said at a town hall at a pub in New Hampshire on Wednesday that Obama's decision to give a speech at a mosque is yet another example of him dividing the country.
In his answer, Bush took no issue with the mosque visit, but he said Obama has failed to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS.
"The bigger issue is what have you done to deal with ISIS. It's important to recognize that peace-loving Muslims that are American citizens are as American as you and I are, but at the same time this president's been derelict in his duties to destroy the caliphate, which is creating the frictions," he said. "That’s what I think, where he’s missed. Going to the mosque is fine, but he needed to develop a strategy that goes beyond incrementalism to destroy ISIS, and he hasn’t done that yet."
Bush spoke with reporters after lunching at the Tilt'n Diner, where he ordered the steak tips.