WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Monday tried to appeal to U.S. voters jittery about terrorism by decrying President Barack Obama’s policies as half-hearted and suggesting that a U.S. ground war against the Islamic State may be inevitable.
The tough-talk is a political gamble. Obama was elected by war-weary voters in 2008 after promising to end the U.S. presence in Iraq. But U.S. sentiment can be fickle and the GOP’s message might appeal to Americans much as President George Bush’s vow of “shock and awe” did following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Returning to the work week for the first time since the Paris attacks, Republicans took to U.S. television networks demanding a new military strategy.
“We can’t negotiate with this threat,” GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush told Fox News. “We should have no empathy for our enemies. We should destroy them.”
Added another GOP presidential hopeful, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “I want to fight them in their backyard, so we don’t fight them in our backyard.”
At a press conference in Antalya, Turkey, on Monday, Obama said anyone who wants to “pop off” their opinions should offer specific plans instead of slogans aimed at voters.
“We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it,” Obama said. “But that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.”
Graham appeared on MSNBC alongside Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said Obama should bring back retired Gen. David Petraeus to lead the fight against the Islamic State.
“Frankly I’m not overwhelmed with 20 airstrikes by the French,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful but … more of the same is not going to stop this virus and this disease, which will lead to a threat in the United States’ national security.”
Mitt Romney, Obama’s presidential rival in 2012, said another Democratic president would be dangerous.
“There’s no question Hillary Clinton has a lot of experience, it’s just bad experience…. She’s just been wrong time and time again,” he told MSNBC.
Romney said he has no intention of running for president in 2016 and declined to endorse any one GOP candidate.