DES MOINES, Iowa — While President Obama was on the golf course in Martha’s Vineyard, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was at the Iowa State Fair criticizing the president’s foreign policy and saying he should “spend less time on the golf course.”
Asked whether he thought Obama should be vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard right now, Cruz accused Obama of being “an absentee president,” noting that he did not visit the border last month when he was in the state of Texas.
“I think the president should actually stand up and do his job as commander in chief, should spend less time on the golf course and more time doing the job to which he was elected,” Cruz told reporters after his speech at the Des Moines Register soapbox.
“I am glad the president is finally demonstrating some leadership, taking the threat from ISIS seriously, but unfortunately, he’s following the pattern that has characterized his foreign policy from the beginning of this tenure which he has laid out no clearly defined objective that we’re trying to accomplish that is key to defending U.S. national security,” Cruz said.
“Airstrikes could well make sense to degrade the lethality of ISIS if they are directed towards accomplishing a concrete defined military objective that furthers U.S. national security interests,” Cruz said.
“What is missing right now is the commander in chief laying out a strategic vision, here is what we’re trying to accomplish so everyone will know when it’s accomplished and here’s why it furthers U.S. national security interests,” he said. “That only comes from the president, and unfortunately right now President Obama’s not providing that leadership.”
Later in the day, Cruz said the president will have to seek authorization from Congress should he decide to pursue additional military action in Iraq.
Before he left for Martha’s Vineyard today, Obama warned Americans to prepare for a prolonged military fight over the skies of Iraq, striking a defensive and defiant tone over the need to reengage in a war he tried ending nearly three years ago.
The stabilization of a new and inclusive Iraqi government, Obama said, was central to determining how long the United States would stay engaged in the latest Iraq conflict. He said the U.S. would be a partner in the effort, but could not lead the way.
“Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq,” Obama said. “The United States can’t do it for them, but we can and will be partners in that effort.”
At a conservative summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday night, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called on the president to arm the Kurdish people, saying that the U.S. has left them with their “pants down around their ankles,” unable to defend themselves.
“If we had good sense, we would arm the Kurds as we said we would. We gave them nothing, not so much as a bb gun, not so much as a bean bag, and instead those people, the only friends we’ve got in that region other than Israel, we’ve left them with their pants down around their ankles without nothing except a love for America and a will to fight for themselves,” Huckabee said at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. “Instead of giving them the arms that would let them be free and save those people’s lives, we do virtually nothing except stand back and watch ISIS use the weapons that we made and created against those very people. Where’s the leadership in that?”
“Where is the outrage in this country that we have not kept our promises to those Kurdish people?” he said. “They stand their tonight battling with little more than the hopes that America will once again be a nation that values people who love freedom and who love god and why aren’t we there?
In a press conference following the speech, Huckabee said he opposes putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and said he supports independence for the Kurds.
At the Iowa State Fair, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also weighed in on the situation in Iraq, criticizing the president and saying he has not outlined a longterm strategy for Iraq.
“I do think more could have been done before this point,” Jindal told ABC News. “And yet we still also haven’t heard from the president a comprehensive strategic perspective on what are his longterm plans. What does he intend to do with ISIS? Is this a limited bombing campaign? Is this going to be to defend the Kurds? Are we now committing air support to defend the Kurds? Are we committing ourselves to containing, reversing the gains that ISIS has made? It’s not clear what the strategic vision going forward is from this administration.”
Asked if Obama should cancel his vacation due to the situation in Iraq, Jindal said “Maybe he’ll actually do less damage if he stays away from his full time job, his day job.”
“The reality is the president has checked out,” he added.