— -- If you watched last night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, you might think President Obama is running for a third term.
Obama was a top target, named by the candidates 50 times -- 32 on the big stage, 18 on the undercard -- according to a review of transcripts by ABC News.
Sen. Ted Cruz alone mentioned Obama by name a whopping 15 times, while front-runner Donald Trump named him just once. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, mentioned Obama once by name but referenced the president nine times.
Here’s an in-depth breakdown at the top 5 sharpest lines of attack on Obama from Tuesday night’s two debates:
1. Obama Is A "Feckless Weakling"
This was the jaw-dropping stunner of the evening – a direct assault on Obama’s leadership.
“Maybe because I'm from New Jersey, I just have this kind of plain language hangup,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began. “Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.”
2. Isolationists Are "No Better Than Obama"
Sen. Lindsey Graham used Obama to bolster his own argument that ground troops are needed to battle the Islamic State, implying that isolationist policies favored by some other conservatives won’t produce victory.
“To the isolationists in our party, you're no better than Obama,” Graham contended. “If you want to win this war, follow me. I am seeking victory, folks, not containment.”
Graham, who was part of the undercard debate, also ripped Obama for boxing up “the best military in the world.”
“Let's take it out of the box and use it before we get attacked here,” he said. “We don't need a draft, we need a commander in chief who knows what the hell they're doing.”
3. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Capitalizing on Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity with Republican primary voters as well as widespread anxiety in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terrorist shooting, many of the candidates aimed at tying Obama to Clinton – previewing a major theme likely to emerge during the general election.
“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's strategy is to lead from behind,” Sen. Marco Rubio said.
“Barack Obama has not kept this country safe. Hillary Clinton will not keep this country safe. We need to nominate someone who America knows will keep this country safe,” Rick Santorum said.
“America has been betrayed,” Christie echoed. “We've been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years.”
“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for the growth of ISIS because they precipitously withdrew from Iraq in 2011 against the advice of every single general and for political expediency,” Carly Fiorina charged.
4. Radical Islamic Terrorists
Recent polling shows that terrorism – not the economy – is emerging as the most important issue in the presidential race and several candidates have repeatedly forced variations of the term “radical Islamic jihadists” into their campaign rhetoric – aiming to undermine the cautious, politically-correct word choice from Obama and Clinton.
“Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed benevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorists. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name,” Ted Cruz bellowed.
“I fought Hillary and Obama as well because by not distinguishing between Muslims and radicalized jihadists, by refusing to acknowledge that it's radical Islamists who are carrying out these attacks, they let Americans who are confused and angry lump everyone together,” former New York Gov. George Pataki said.
5. A "Doggone Good Idea?"
Using the ongoing controversy surrounding Syrian refugees as a springboard, Huckabee laid on thick sarcasm when he turned the tables on Obama and proposed refugees take up residence in tents in the backyard at the White House.
“If it's such a doggone good idea to bring people here that we really don't know who they are and Obama thinks that we're being un-Christian to not do it, I've got a suggestion: Let's send the first wave of them to Chappaqua, Martha's Vineyard and the Upper East Side of Manhattan and to the south lawn of the White House where we'll set up a camp,” Huckabee said. “Let's see how that works out.”