— -- Likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said today he would take put U.S. troops on the ground in the fight against ISIS if it was necessary to "accomplish the mission."
"The mission should be defeating ISIS before they succeed in carrying out more horrific acts of terror, before they succeed in murdering Americans. If need be, we should go that step," Cruz told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos when asked whether U.S. troops on the ground should be considered.
Cruz's answer echoed that of fellow GOP hopeful, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who said last Sunday on "This Week" that he "wouldn't rule out" deploying American troops in the fight against ISIS.
Cruz, however, emphasized that the first steps in combating the terror group should be arming the forces already battling ISIS on the ground, and stepping up the severity of air strikes.
"We need to arm the Kurds and we need to use the Peshmerga as boots on the ground. They're effective. They're ready. They're our close allies and we need to use that in close coordination with overwhelming air power to take out ISIS," Cruz said. "We've seen essentially photo-op foreign policy, where we drop a bomb here or a missile there."
With ISIS and al Qaeda also posing a threat to the U.S. homeland, Stephanopoulos asked Cruz about GOP efforts to block funding of the Department of Homeland Security to stop President Obama's executive orders on immigration.
Earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner called out the Texas senator by name, urging him and other Republican senators to join the effort to block funding of the executive actions, saying "We won this fight in the House. Now the fight must be won in the United States Senate."
"It's time for Senator Cruz and Senator [Jeff] Sessions and Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats to stand with the American people and to block the president's actions," Boehner said Tuesday.
But on Sunday, Cruz denied responsibility for the plan to block DHS funding, saying it was the strategy of House leaders.
"This was not my plan. This was leadership's plan. This was the Cromnibus, which you'll recall in December, I fought vigorously against it. I said, this plan doesn't make sense. It gives away all our leverage, and it's a plan that is designed to fail. So, I would ask leadership, this is their plan they designed. Let's see what their next step is," Cruz said.
"And Republicans, what we need to do is we need to honor the commitment we made to the voters, and that means we need to fund DHS and we also need to act effectively to stop President Obama's illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty," Cruz added.
Looking ahead to a potential presidential primary race that could see him going against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Cruz said Republican voters want a candidate "who will stand up and lead" and who has demonstrated a commitment to conservative values.
"Look, Jeb Bush is a good man. He's a good governor. I respect him," Cruz said. "If he chooses to run, it certainly looks like he's going to, he's going to have to make the case to Republican primary voters, concerning his record, concerning certainly his support for Common Core, concerning his policies on immigration, and I think we'll have a debate on that."
And despite new signs of economic growth, Cruz said potential 2016 rival Hillary Clinton will have trouble running on the economy if income inequality doesn't improve.
"If Hillary Clinton wants to run by telling Americans that the economy is doing great and you can credit President Obama and Hillary Clinton for that, I would encourage her to follow that strategy," Cruz said. "I'm glad President Obama and Hillary Clinton have discovered income inequality because it's increased dramatically under their failed policies."