Marco Rubio today bashed candidates on both sides of the aisle for their stances on national security, calling Hillary Clinton “incompetent” and taking aim at “isolationist candidates” in his own party who are “more passionate about weakening our military and intelligence capabilities than about destroying our enemies.”
“We have Republican candidates who propose that rulers like [Bashar al-] Assad and [Vladimir] Putin should be partners of the United States, and who have voted with Barack Obama and Harry Reid rather than with our men and women in uniform,” Rubio said in Hooksett, New Hampshire, taking aim at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in one shot.
In late September, Trump said he supported Putin’s plan to partner with the United States in order to fight ISIS. The Assad reference, meanwhile, was a subtle dig at Cruz, who has argued that “toppling a government and allowing radical Islamic terrorists to take over a nation is not benefiting our national security interests.” Rubio believes that Assad has to go.
In another implicit dig at Trump, Rubio said the president’s job “is not described in the Constitution as ‘entertainer in chief’ or ‘commentator in chief’ or even, frankly, ‘economist in chief.’”
“It is described as Commander in Chief,” said Rubio. “If you can’t be bothered to offer specifics on how you will perform that job, then you don’t deserve that job.”
Rubio has previously called Trump out for not offering specifics on foreign policy.
He took further aim at Cruz and Paul for voting to cut the defense budget and bashed Cruz for saying he’d make the sands of the Middle East “glow in the dark”.
“My question is: with what? Because they certainly can’t do it with the oldest and smallest Air Force in the history of this country, or with the smallest Army we’ve had since World War II, or with the smallest and oldest Navy we’ve had since 1915,” Rubio said.
“[These candidates] talk tough, yet they would strip us of the ability to keep our people safe,” Rubio said. The attack has become a regular part of Rubio’s stump.
Cruz's campaign lashed out at Rubio in a statement.
"So Rubio's foreign policy and national security strategy is to invade Middle Eastern countries, create power vacuums for terrorist organizations, allow their people to come to America unvetted, give them legal status and citizenship, then impose a massive surveillance state to monitor the problem," said Alice Stewart, Cruz's national spokesperson. "I'm trying to figure out if it is more incoherent than dangerous or vice versa."
Rubio also bashed Obama's foreign policy and said Clinton "lied to our faces" during the Benghazi hearings.
"No one in the mainstream media has the courage to call her out for it," he said. "If I am our nominee, voters will be reminded of it time and time again."
This was Rubio’s first foreign-policy speech since November.