Republican Presidential Candidates Attack Obama's Handling of ISIS at Iowa Forum

Seven candidates criticized the president's policies.

DES MOINES, Iowa— -- Seven Republican presidential candidates speaking at a forum meant to focus on family instead focused much of their time criticizing President Obama's policies on ISIS.

Sitting next to one another at the Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines on Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rick Santorum avoided attacking one another directly. Instead, they focused on President Obama.

"The policies he's advancing are helping the other team," said Cruz, who called the president, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry "apologists for terrorists."

Cruz called for Kerry’s resignation, drawing cheers from the 1,500 in attendance.

Huckabee went a step further, saying Kerry was "only doing the bidding of the person who appointed him."

"I've got a better idea -- instead of getting rid of John Kerry, I’d like Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam," he said.

Rubio continued the criticism, saying the president "hasn't even defined what victory means."

When asked why President Obama hadn't used more aggressive tactics to fight ISIS, including establishing a ground force with Sunni and Kurdish fighters, Rubio replied, "well, he's a bad president."

Santorum referred to the Obama administration's handling of ISIS as "delusional," saying it cost lives in Paris, Mali, and in the United States.

Fiorina said more needed to be done to stop ISIS from gaining territory.

"What we must do is deny ISIS territory and that means we must cut off their supply lines, we must cut off their money," she said.

Paul turned his focus to the three Democrats running for president and a question from their debate last weekend in Des Moines.

"Nobody on the other stage will even call it what it is -- radical Islam," he said.

The candidates were also asked how they would handle a terrorist attack in New York City's Times Square on the anniversary of September 11 in 2017. While Rubio listed federal and statement departments he would reach out to, Carson said the work preventing another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil would have been done beforehand.

"In medicine, you know, we anticipate these kinds of things and we have a bunch of protocols already in place, so you already know how to activate the cascade of activities," he said. "You don't really have to sit there and think about what is the first call you are going to make."