Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio battled over defense spending and foreign policy during Tuesday’s primetime GOP presidential debate on CNN.
Rubio said, “three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops. It also, by the way, funds the Iron Dome, and other important programs. And I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president. He has also supported, by the way, a budget, that is called a containment budget. And it is a budget that would radically reduce the amount of money we spend on our military. You can’t carpet bomb ISIS if you don’t have planes and bombs to attack them with. And if we continue those cuts that we’re doing now, not to mention additional cuts, we are going to left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force this country has ever had, and that leaves us less safe.”
Cruz responded, “it is true that I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, because, when I campaigned in Texas, I told voters in Texas that I would oppose the federal government having the authority to detain US citizens permanently with no due process. I have repeatedly supported an effort to take that out of that bill, and I honored that campaign commitment. But more broadly, you know, the notion Marco is suggesting, that somehow he also has tossed more than a few insults this direction, let’s be absolutely clear, ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe, than I will be. We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys, and one of the problems with Marco’s foreign policy is he has far too often supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama undermining governments in the Middle East that have helped radical Islamic terrorists. We need to focus on killing the bad guys, not getting stuck in Middle Eastern civil wars, that don’t keep America safe.”
Rubio answered, “three points of distinction. The first is, if you’re an American citizen, and you decide to join up with ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda Rights, you are going to be treated as an enemy combatant, a member of an army attacking this country. Number two, we do need our defense capabilities. It is a fact that the cuts we are facing today, and the cuts that Senator Cruz would have supported would leave us with an even smaller Air Force, and a smaller Navy, than the one we are going to be left with. And the final point that I would make is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s strategy is to lead from behind. It sounds like what he’s outlining is not to lead at all. We cannot continue to outsource foreign policy. We must lead. We are the most powerful nation in the world. We need to begin to act like it, again.”
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