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Sen. Ted Cruz slammed President Obama for “going to baseball games with the Castros” in Cuba and Donald Trump for questioning the need for the U.S. alliance with NATO in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels.
“While our friends and allies are attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros and standing at a press conference with Raul Castro as a prop, while Castro denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba,” Cruz told reporters in Washington.
The Republican presidential hopeful also said Trump, a rival for the GOP nomination, said he would withdraw the United States from NATO. (Trump did not say the United States should withdraw from NATO, but he questioned U.S. involvement in the organization and said it may need to be diminished in the future in an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.)
“NATO should join with the United States in utterly destroying ISIS,” Cruz said, using an acronym for the Islamic State, “and I would note that NATO is ready to act in a way that our president is not.”
Cruz said the attacks in Brussels underscore that the world is at war.
“Today’s attacks in Brussels underscores that this is a war. This is not an isolated incident. This is not a lone wolf. This is a war with radical Islamic terrorism. ISIS has declared jihad on Europe, and on the United States of America,” Cruz said.
As he has in the past, Cruz singled out Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorists” and argued that he has been too soft against the Islamic State.
“President Obama continues to embrace political correctness — he will not even name this enemy, much less do what is necessary to defeat it,” Cruz said in an interview with Fox News.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Cruz said that the United States should “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” but he did not give any detail on what this means.
Cruz's proposal quickly drew its own criticism, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“It’s really beyond belief that you have one of the leading presidential candidates calling for law enforcement to target religious communities totally based on the fact that they are of a particular faith,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. “... We call on voters to reject this. It just shows you what happens when you appoint policy advisers like Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin to your team.”
Gaffney and Boykin are two foreign policy advisers recently named by Cruz. Both have been criticized for expressing anti-Muslim views.
The Texas Republican also cast doubts on the visa waiver program, telling reporters it needs “serious scrutiny.”
“The visa waiver program was designed for a different era, when those from Europe were not perceived to be threats,” he said. Cruz said that vetting programs for Syrian Muslim refugees are “woefully inadequate.” Cruz introduced a bill that would bar refugees from Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Cruz continued to say he would “carpet bomb” the Islamic State and that Kurdish forces must be armed.
Sean Sullivan and David Weigel contributed to this report.