Iran nuclear deal
- Speaking at the Brookings Institution on September 9, 2015, about the Iran nuclear deal, Hillary Clinton said, “As president I will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the U.S. and its allies. I will not hesitate to take military action.” She also noted she understood Israel’s concerns about the agreement, but added, “I would not support this agreement for one second if I thought it put Israel in greater danger.” Clinton emphasized that her approach to enforcement would be “distrust and verify.”
- Clinton defended the Iran nuclear deal on August 10, 2015, noting it was the joint effort of several nations and the United States’ reputation would be harmed if the deal were rejected. “The Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, they’re going to say, ‘We stuck with the Americans. We agreed with the Americans. We hammered out this agreement. I guess their president can’t make foreign policy. That’s a very bad signal to send in a quickly moving and oftentimes dangerous world,” Clinton said.
- After the Iran nuclear deal was finalized on July 14, 2015, Clinton said, “Based on what I know now, and I will be being briefed as soon as I finish addressing you, this is an important step for putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear program.” Clinton cautioned that the deal must “be enforced vigorously, relentlessly.”
- On April 2, 2015, Clinton said, “The understanding that the major world powers have reached with Iran is an important step toward a comprehensive agreement that would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and strengthen the security of the United States, Israel, and the region. President [Barack Obama] and Secretary [of State John] Kerry have been persistent and determined in pursuit of this goal, building on a decade of bipartisan pressure and diplomacy. Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial. I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation. So I strongly support President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s efforts between now and June to reach a final deal that verifiably cuts off all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon, imposes an intrusive inspection program with no sites off limits, extends breakout time, and spells out clear and overwhelming consequences for violations. The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high. It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon. It is also vital that these efforts be part of a comprehensive strategy to check Iran’s regional ambitions, defend our allies and partners, and reinforce American leadership in the Middle East. There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”
Military preparedness and budget
- During the fifth Democratic primary debate on February 4, 2016, Hillary Clinton discussed reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs(VA): “Well, first of all, I’m absolutely against privatizing the V.A. And I am going do everything I can to build on the reforms that Senator Sanders and others in Congress have passed to try to fix what’s wrong with the V.A. There are a lot of issues about wait times and services that have to be fixed because our veterans deserve nothing but the best. But you’re absolutely right, you know, Rachel, this is another part of the Koch brothers agenda. They’ve actually formed an organization to try to begin to convince Americans we should no longer have guaranteed health care, specialized care for our veterans. I will fight that as hard as I can. I think there’s where we can enlist the veterans service organizations, the veterans of America, because, yes, let’s fix the V.A., but we will never let it be privatized, and that is a promise.”
- At an event in Derry, N.H., on November 10, 2015, Hillary Clinton rolled out a plan to overhaul the delivery of health care to veterans, and pledged to make the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more accountable and improve conditions for active military personnel. She promised to fight “as long and hard as it takes” against any Republican effort to fully privatize the VA, but said she would allow the agency to contract with the private sector for some “specialty” surgical services, according to WMUR.com Clinton’s initiative comes two weeks after she was sharply criticized by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and others for saying that issues facing veterans were “not as widespread” as Republicans have contended. She later walked back the remarks by saying through a spokesman that there are in fact “systemic” problems at the VA that need to be addressed, WMUR.com reported.
- During an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on October 23, 2015, Hillary Clinton said that issues with the care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs were not as “widespread” as the media had reported. “Now nobody would believe that from the coverage you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have,” Clinton added.
- After the release of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ book in 2014, Michael Crowley of Time wrote, “Gates’ book is just the latest evidence, along with previous reporting and original interviews with current and former Obama officials, of the strikingly hawkish voice Clinton offered during Obama Situation Room debates.”
- After President Obama announced his plan to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in February 2016, Clinton said, “I support President Obama’s plan today to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and finally close the door on this chapter of our history. Over the years, Guantanamo has inspired more terrorists than it has imprisoned. It has not strengthened our national security; it has damaged it.”
- At the third Democratic primary debate on December 19, 2015, Hillary Clinton discussed regime change in Libya: “We offered a lot more [help]. We also got rid of their chemical weapons, which was a big help, and we also went after a lot of the shoulder-fired missiles to round them up. You know, we can’t — if we’re not going to send American troops, which there was never any idea of doing that, then to try to send trainers, to try to send experts, is something we offered, Europeans offered, the U.N. offered, and there wasn’t a lot of responsiveness at first. I think a lot of the Libyans who had been forced out of their country by Gadhafi who came back to try to be part of a new government, believed they knew what to do and it turned out that they were no match for some of the militaristic forces inside that country. But I’m not giving up on Libya and I don’t think anybody should. We’ve been at this a couple of years.
- At the third Democratic primary debate on December 19, 2015, Hillary Clinton discussed her support for establishing a no-fly zone in Syria: “[O]ne of the reasons why I have advocated for a no-fly zone is in order to create those safe refuges within Syria, to try to protect people on the ground both from Assad’s forces, who are continuing to drop barrel bombs, and from ISIS. And of course, it has to be de-conflicted with the Russians, who are also flying in that space. I’m hoping that because of the very recent announcement of the agreement at the Security Council, which embodies actually an agreement that I negotiated back in Geneva in June of 2012, we’re going to get a diplomatic effort in Syria to begin to try to make a transition. A no-fly zone would prevent the outflow of refugees and give us a chance to have some safe spaces.”
- During first Democratic primary debate, on October 13, 2015, Hillary Clinton weighed in on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to increase that nation’s military engagement in Syria. Clinton said, “There’s no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be President, that did change the relationship. We have to stand up to his bullying, and specifically in Syria, it is important — and I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they’ve got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict. And, to — provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are. And, I think it’s important too that the United States make it very clear to Putin that it’s not acceptable for him to be in Syria creating more chaos, bombing people on behalf of Assad, and we can’t do that if we don’t take more of a leadership position, which is what I’m advocating.”
- Hillary Clinton said January 6, 2016, that the U.S. and its allies should impose additional sanctions against North Korea if it is proven true that North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
- Clinton wrote an op-ed in The Jewish Journal on January 6, 2016, to promote the importance of stronger U.S.-Israel relations. She stated that “the United States and Israel need to work together to address three converging trends: the rise of ISIS and the struggle against radical jihadism, Iran’s increasingly aggressive regional ambitions, and the growing effort around the world to isolate and delegitimize Israel.” She also advocated for the end of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
- In an op-ed Clinton wrote for Forward on November 4, 2015, she discussed how she would handle relations between the United States and Israel. Clinton wrote, “As president I will never stop working to advance the goal of two states for two peoples living in peace, security and dignity. I will do everything I can to enhance our strategic partnership and strengthen America’s security commitment to Israel, ensuring that it always has the qualitative military edge to defend itself. That includes immediately dispatching a delegation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet with senior Israeli commanders. I would also invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House in my first month in office.”
- Clinton tweeted on September 27, 2015, that Chinese President Xi Jinping was “shameless” for “hosting a meeting on women’s rights at the UN while persecuting feminists” in his country.
Iran nuclear deal
- Speaking on the floor of the Senate on September 9, 2015, Bernie Sanders expressed his support for the Iran nuclear deal and suggested his Republican colleagues were hawkish. “It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation with the most powerful military on earth is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can use our strength and our capabilities to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way. I believe it is incumbent upon us to give the negotiated agreement the chance to succeed,” Sanders said.
- On July 14, 2015, Sanders called the final deal on Iran’s nuclear program “a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling.” He went on, praising those who participated in the deal, “I congratulate President Obama, Secretary [John] Kerry and the leaders of other major nations for producing a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
- On April 2, 2015, Sanders said, “While much more work remains to be done this framework is an important step forward. It is imperative that Iran not get a nuclear weapon. It also is imperative that we do everything we can to reach a diplomatic solution and avoid never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to examining the details of this agreement and making sure that it is effective and strong.”
Military preparedness and budget
- Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said October 14, 2015, that Bernie Sanders ignored problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 when it was first reported that there were severe delays in healthcare for veterans leading to deaths across the country. Rieckhoff said, “For far too long he was apologizing for the VA. He was refusing to acknowledge the severity. He was positioning it as a smaller issue than it was while veterans were dying waiting for care.”
- Defending his opposition to war on September 3, 2015, Bernie Sanders said, “War should be in my view, the last resort of a great nation. We should explore every other option – and I know that opens up the political types: ‘Oh, you’re wimpy. You don’t want to go to war.’ Well, I don’t accept that. I’ve talked to too many people who came home without legs, without eyesight, with traumatic brain injury.”
- Sanders’ campaign confirmed to ABC News on August 31, 2015, that Sanders filed for conscious objector status during the Vietnam War. The confirmation followed a column in The Des Moines Register where the author, Steve Wikert, asked, “My question as a Vietnam veteran is: How on earth could a person claiming to be a conscientious objector become the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world?”
- Sanders served as chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs from 2013 to 2014. During his tenure, Sanders said, “Some may not be aware that some tens and tens of thousands of young healthy men and women have come home from those wars with traumatic brain injury and post traumatic brain disorder. We have a moral responsibility that all those veterans — and all veterans — get the best quality health care that we can possibly provide.”
- During the fifth Democratic primary debate on February 4, 2016, Bernie Sanders discussed his thoughts on leaving soldiers in Afghanistan: “Well, you can’t simply withdraw tomorrow. Wish we could, and allow, you know, the Taliban or anybody else to reclaim that country. But what we must do, and what we have seen in recent months, is some progress in Iraq, where finally the Iraqi army, which has not been a particularly effective fighting force, retook Ramadi. ISIS has lost I think 40 percent of the territory that it held in the last year. Hopefully, and you know, one can’t predict the future, that maybe our training and their fighting capabilities are improving and we are going to make some progress in destroying ISIS.”
- During a Democratic forum in South Carolina, November 6, 2015, Sanders discussed his opposition to President Obama’s decision “to deploy special operation forces to Syria to help battle ISIS. Pointing out he had opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, unlike Clinton, the Vermont senator said he did ‘not want to see us get in — sucked into a quagmire of which there may be no end,’” according to NPR.
- During the first Democratic debate, October 13, 2015, Sanders]] was asked how he could be commander-in-chief given that he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Sanders responded, “I am not a pacifist… I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton’s effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do. Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.”
- Sanders said on October 8, 2015, that the priority in Syria should be to eliminate ISIS and remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power through collaboration with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. He also complimented President Obama for “doing a good job trying to sort through this and trying to make sure that we do not continue to have funerals back home for young American kids killed in combat.”
- In response to North Korea’s claim that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, Bernie Sanders said January 6, 2016, the U.S. “is going to have to lean on China.” He continued, “China is North Korea’s closest ally and they’re going to have to push North Korea to start adhering to international agreements.”
- Sanders wrote a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on September 28, 2015, asking the Obama administration to support a proposal that would make some of the world’s poorest countries exempt from restrictions that hike drug prices. Sanders wrote, “Making sure people in poor countries have access to life-saving medicine is our moral responsibility. I respectfully ask you to reconsider this position.”
- Although Sanders argued the United States “step up” to assist Syrian refugees, he said on September 13, 2015, that American military intervention in Syria could lead to “perpetual warfare in that region.” Sanders added that other countries, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, will have to “get their hands dirty” and “get on the ground in taking on ISIS.”
- On July 5, 2015, Sanders applauded the people of Greece who voted against austerity measures that creditors’ called for in order to continue lending to Greece. He said, “I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly.”
Iran nuclear deal
- Speaking at the Values Voter Summit on September 25, 2015, Ted Cruz implied the United States should kill the ayatollah of Iran if he tried to acquire nuclear weapons. He said, “If you vote for me, under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. And if the ayatollah doesn’t understand that, we may have to help introduce him to his 72 virgins.”
- Cruz strongly opposed the Iran deal during the September 2015 GOP debate, despite challenges from John Kasich on the stage. “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal,” Cruz stated.
- Cruz published an op-ed in USA Today on September 10, 2015, to protest the Iran nuclear deal. He argued the agreement makes the Obama administration “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” “abandons” four American hostages held in Iran and facilitates Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
- On September 1, 2015, American Thinker released on interview with Cruz where he stated his opposition to the Iran deal. “The U.S. and Israel are joined by the Iranian rhetoric that calls Israel ‘The Little Satan,’ and the U.S. ‘The Big Satan.’ Their intention is to murder both of us. We face an enemy that hates us and has been very explicit that they intend to do everything they can to kill Israelis and us. These enemies are driven by a radical theological view that glorifies death and suicide. This deal harkens back to the Munich Deal of 1938, allowing homicidal maniacs to acquire weapons of mass murder,” said Cruz. He continued, “The Obama Administration will become the leading financier of radical Islamist terrorism. Billions of dollars will go to Iran that will be passed on to terrorists across the world to murder Americans and Israelis. A consequence of this deal will be that the Obama administration will have directly financed the next 9/11.”
- Cruz introduced a resolution on July 30, 2015, to delay the 60-day review period of the Iran nuclear deal until the Obama administration released all materials related to the agreement, including “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- On July 21, 2015, Cruz discussed his thoughts on the possible repercussions of the Iran deal. Cruz said, “If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, one of the most dangerous things it could do with it is load that weapon onto a ship anywhere in the Atlantic, fire the warhead straight into the air, into the atmosphere. If you get high enough and detonate that warhead, it would set off an electromagnetic pulse, what is called an EMP. That EMP could shut down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, could take down our stock market, our financial systems, but even more importantly could take down food delivery, water delivery, heat, air conditioning, transportation. The projections are that one nuclear warhead in the atmosphere over the Eastern seaboard could result in tens of millions of Americans dying.”
- On July 14, 2015, Cruz called the final Iran deal “staggeringly bad.” He also said, “It is a fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States and of our closest allies, first and foremost Israel.”
- On April 17, 2015, Cruz sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry arguing that because “discrepancies on key elements of the (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) framework have come to light,” the P5+1 and Iran should “make public a joint framework agreement outlining the parameters that have been agreed upon, and those that will be addressed in the event negotiations continue in both classified and unclassified form.” To read Cruz’s letter click here.
- On April 3, 2015, Cruz released the following statement on the Iran nuclear deal: “President Obama’s agreement with Iran, the details of which he has largely kept secret, is as he said ‘historic’ because of the catastrophic risk it poses to the security of the United States and our allies. The so-called deal, unilaterally arranged without any consultation with Congress, lifts sanctions and effectively puts Iran on the path to the bomb after a 10-year horizon. The likelihood of Iran using those weapons against Israel, which its leaders call ‘little Satan’ and have explicitly said they would like to ‘erase off the map’ and America, which it calls ‘the Great Satan,’ is unacceptably high. Under no circumstance should a U.S. President lift sanctions and grant nuclear capability to a nation that proudly chants ‘Death to America.’ …This is a very bad deal and it is a grim day for America. President Obama is right to be concerned that it will likely face considerable opposition from the American people and their representatives in Congress. Because absent Congress’ consent, it will not be binding when President Obama leaves office.”
Military preparedness and budget
- During a campaign event on February 16, 2016, in South Carolina, Ted Cruz discussed rebuilding the military and the culture of “political correctness” at the Pentagon. Veterans are a significant voting block in the state and the speech comes as Marco Rubio has criticized Cruz for voting against military spending. Cruz said, “I am confident that if we put in the hard work we can, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, rebuild our military so it will be so feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies that, God willing, we won’t have to use it. That is the essence of what President Reagan used to call ‘peace through strength.'” He added, “That’s why the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments — or providing gluten-free MREs.”
- Cruz broke from other Republicans on February 7, 2016, saying he did not support requiring women to register for the draft. Said Cruz, “My reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’ We have had enough with political correctness especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous and the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong. And if I am president, we ain’t doing it! I’m the father of two little girls, and I love those little girls with all my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire. But the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s yet one more sign of this politically correct world where we forget common sense.”
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Cruz discussed the current military rules of engagement: “I have visited with active duty military, with veterans over and over and over again in town halls all over the state of New Hampshire. What we are doing to our sons and daughters, it is immoral. We are sending them into [sic] fight with their arms tied behind their back. They cannot defend themselves. And it is wrong. And I will tell you this. Look. America has always been reluctant to use military force. It’s the last step we take. But if and when we use it when it comes to defeating ISIS, we should use it. We should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy and then get the heck out. Don’t engage in nation-building but instead, allow our soldiers to do their jobs instead of risking their lives with politicians making it impossible to accomplish the objective.”
- During a 2014 interview, Ted Cruz said, “I think it is a mistake to confuse war-weariness with an unwillingness of the American people to defend our national security interests. So for example, if you look at the willingness of the American people to act, and to act if necessarily (sic) militarily, to prevent the nation of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, you see considerable support among the American people for protecting our national security, not for invading a nation and staying there for decades, but for acting to defend ourselves against clear and present dangers. I don’t think the American people have retreated from a willingness to defend our nation.”
- Ted Cruz expressed concern about the future of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base during a televised town hall on CNN on February 17, 2016. He said, “I fear by the end of this year President Obama plans to give the Guantanamo Navy Base back to Cuba. I hope he doesn’t do that. I think it is a profound risk.”
- At the fifth GOP primary debate on December 15, 2015, Cruz said his foreign policy would focus on national security, which he argued would be a change in focus from President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Cruz said, “I believe in a America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton – and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans – have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe. So let’s go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them. The result of that – and we were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists. Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization. And we need to learn from history. These same leaders – Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans – want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. Gadhafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us – at least Gadhafi and Mubarak – in fighting radical Islamic terrorists. And if we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And the approach, instead of being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter…we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to take control of new countries.”
- In a December 3, 2015, speech at the Jewish Republican Coalition presidential forum, Cruz also said that a Clinton presidency would lead to Iran gaining nuclear weapons. “We need to nominate a candidate who has the clarity to stand up and say: If you vote for Hillary Clinton, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khamenei to have nuclear weapons. And if you vote for me, Iran will never have nuclear weapons,” he said.
- In an interview with the Associated Press published December 2, 2015, Cruz said there would be more stability in the Middle East if dictators in Iraq, Egypt and Libya had not been deposed. “If you topple a stable ruler, throw a Middle Eastern country into chaos and hand it over to radical Islamic terrorists, that hurts America,” Cruz said. He added that removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power would be “materially worse for U.S. national security interests.”
- In a radio interview on October 12, 2015, Cruz reiterated his belief that a “significant number” of the Syrian refugees the U.S. intended to accept in 2016 are “ISIS terrorists.” He added, “You know under existing immigration law, the president has considerable leeway governing refugees, unfortunately. And so, I think the most potent tool is shining a light, and forcing Democrats to defend it, forcing them to defend why exactly would you want to bring in Syrian Muslims, when we don’t know, we can’t sort and separate, the ISIS terrorists who are among them.”
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Ted Cruz discussed how he would respond to the North Korea missile launch: “Well, I would note, initially the fact that we’re seeing the launch, and we’re seeing the launch from a nuclear North Korea is the direct result of the failures of the first Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. Billions of dollars flowed into North Korea in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons.They took those billions and built nuclear weapons. And, I would note also the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran. So, what we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran. With respect to North Korea and what we should do now, one of the first things we should do is expand our missile defense capacity. We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. South Korea wants them. One of the real risks of this launch, North Korea wants to launch a satellite, and one of the greatest risks of the satellite is they would place a nuclear device in the satellite. As it would orbit around the Earth, and as it got over the United States they would detonate that nuclear weapon and set of what’s called an EMP, and electromagnetic pulse which could take down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions. We need to harden the grid to defend ourselves, and we need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea.”
- During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Cruz criticized the Obama administration in connection with the release of four Americans. He said, “We celebrate all of them coming home. But at the same time, this deal is a really problematic deal and it reflects a pattern we’ve seen in the Obama administration over and over again of negotiating with terrorists and making deals and trades that endanger U.S. safety and security.This deal, to bring back Americans who were wrongly imprisoned, we released seven terrorists who had helped Iran with their nuclear program, and we agreed not to prosecute another 14 terrorists for doing the same thing. That’s 21 terrorists helping Iran develop nuclear weapons that they intend to use to try to murder us.”
- Discussing his immigration policies during a radio interview on January 12, 2016, Cruz criticized the Bill Clinton administration’s decision to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000. When asked about it, Cruz said that the U.S. government “sent goons in to snatch a six-year-old boy and wrongly return him to an oppressive Communist dictatorship. That was a sad day for America when you saw the federal government sending stormtroopers with machine guns to grab a six-year-child whose mother had died trying to give him freedom and instead for us to send him back to Fidel Castro.”
- Cruz blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for North Korea’s allegedly successful test of a hydrogen bomb, accusing them of permitting a “megalomaniacal maniac to acquire nuclear weapons, and now potentially a hydrogen weapon.” He added, “When we look at North Korea it is like looking at a crystal ball. This is where Iran ends up if we continue on the same misguided path.”
Iran nuclear deal
- At the seventh Republican presidential primary debate on January 28, 2016, John Kasich signaled he would not immediately scrap the Iran nuclear deal if he were elected president: “Look, we don’t know what’s going to happen in ten months. And if I were president of the United States right now, I’d be lining up our allies to say that, if one crossed T or one dotted I does not occur, they are — violate the agreement, we slap back on sanctions. We can slap on sanctions alone, on day one, but it’s not gonna be anywhere near as effective. But the president needs to be laying the groundwork right now for the ability to slap those sanctions back on worldwide. And I’ll tell you what I’m worried about — I’m worried about money. You read about all the companies now that are doing business — about to do business in Iran, and if we don’t get this settled now, with other countries in the world, about sanctions, then Iran could violate that agreement, and we’re the only ones putting the sanctions on. We need to move aggressively now. But I would say this to you, Bret. Number one, if they violate it, we need to move against them. And number two, if we find out they’re developing a nuclear weapon and we know how to get to it, we’re gonna go take it out. That is what we have to do. We cannot let things get farther down the road, like we did with North Korea.”
- During the September 2015 GOP debate, John Kasich was the only GOP contender to say he would consider supporting the Iran deal. Kasich stated, “Now, this agreement, we don’t know what’s going to happen in 18 months. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years. I’ve seen lots of issues in foreign affairs, and foreign — in terms of global politics, you have to be steady. Now, here’s the — if they cheat, we slap the sanctions back on. If they help Hamas, and Hezbollah, we slap the sanctions back on. And, if we find out that they may be developing a nuclear weapon, than the military option is on the table. We are stronger when we work with the Western civilization, our friends in Europe, and just doing it on our own I don’t think is the right policy.”
- On September 8, 2015, John Kasich signed a letter to President Obama, along with 14 other governors, that opposed the Iran deal and advocated to keep state sanctions against Iran in place.
- Kasich declined to say on September 2, 2015, that he would terminate the Iran nuclear deal immediately if he became president. Instead, Kasich said, “If it passes, if we see one violation of that agreement, I would slap on sanctions even if it’s unilateral. And if I were president, I would hope it wouldn’t be unilateral, because the Europeans are experiencing an awful lot of pressure over there, in many different ways. If the security of the United States and our allies are threatened, it’s a whole new ball game.”
- During a speech at the New America Foundation’s April 24, 2015, conference Kasich expressed his concern with the Iran nuclear deal. He said, “This is serious business about mankind. This is not some political discussion. And I want to have a deal that I’m going to trust. This is about my 15-year-old daughters and their survival. We have to be careful here what we do.”
Military preparedness and budget
- John Kasich discussed his position on veterans issues at a campaign event in[Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He said, that the Department of Veterans Affairs “system right now is so broken. A veteran should be able to get health care where it’s closest to them. They should have a choice.”
- Kasich served on the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services while in Congress.
- In 1999, Kasich voted against S Con Res 21 – A concurrent resolution authorizing the President of the United States to conduct military air operations and missile strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
- In 1989, Kasich and former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-Calif.), worked together to “halt production of the costly B-2. The unlikely allies ran up against a powerful adversary in then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, but their efforts led to reductions in the program,” according to Cleveland.com.
- During the ninth Republican presidential primary debate on February 13, 2016, John Kasich discussed the use of military force. “I served on a defense committee for 18 years and was called into the Pentagon after 9/11 by Secretary Rumsfeld to deal with some of the most serious problems that we faced. The fact is, is that we should go to war when it is our direct interest. We should not be policemen of the world, but when we go, we mean business. We’ll do our job. We’ll tell our soldiers, our people in the service, take care of your job and then come home once we’ve accomplished our goals. That’s what we need to do.”
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, John Kasich discussed North Korea’s missile launch: “Well, we’ve got to to [sic] step up the pressure. And by the way, I’ve gotta say, after being here, every one of my 100 town hall meetings in New Hampshire were a lot more fun than what I saw here today, were so much more positive. Look, in terms of North Korea, Martha, we have to make sure that we intercept both the ships and their aircraft, because what they’re trying to do is to proliferate this very dangerous material, along with the — with the technology, the instruments that can be used for mass destruction. That’s what I worry about the most, frankly, is non-state actors, people who don’t have a uniform, people don’t have a country, who can spread this, who are not subject to the — to the mutual assured defense. In other words, you strike us, we strike you. Some of these radicals, they don’t care about that. That’s what I worry about, for my children, and for their children, going forward. So, we have to be very tough. And we should tell the Chinese, look, if you’re not going to do this ballistic missile defense to the Koreans, ballistic missile defense to Japan — and by the way, we should impose the same kind of sanctions on North Korea that we imposed on Iran, because they’re able to shift money. They’re able to send money and receive money. We’ve gotta to be very tough on this. And frankly, I think we could have — I think we could have let the Japanese know that if you want to take action on that — on that missile that’s rising, you want to take action — you will have our support, if that’s what you think is the best thing to do. We cannot continue to be weak in the face of the North Koreans, or, frankly, in the entire rest of the world.”
- When asked by CNN on November 4, 2015, how he would respond to unofficial reports that the Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai was downed by a bomb, Kasich said securing “robust intelligence” was essential. He added, “I would just hope that our Western friends and people that share our Western values would realize that the time has come to destroy ISIS as part of a coalition. And if that means that U.S. boots have to be on the ground, so be it, because to allow this to linger, to put this off, to think that somehow this is going to go away is naive at best.”
- On October 2, 2015, Kasich advocated for the creation of no-fly zones in Syria to provide civilians there with “sanctuaries from violence” as Russia targeted the country with airstrikes. “Russia’s recent military build-up and intervention in Syria are neither intended to defeat ISIS nor to relieve the suffering of Syrian refugees. Mr. Putin’s real goals are quite different: to take military action to rescue Assad’s criminal government from its death and to strengthen Russia’s strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean. This is unacceptable and must stop,” Kasich said in a statement.
- In August 2015, Kasich spoke about national security at a panel hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security in South Carolina. He emphasized his experience as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Budget Committee, and placed himself in between Chris Christie and Rand Paul on the issue of government surveillance. Politico described his approach as that of “a thrifty national security hawk.”
- John Kasich said he would not seek to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview on February 14, 2016. “I would only go to Syria to destroy ISIS. I would not use U.S. troops to depose Assad. But I would support the rebels there. It’s okay to support those people who share your view. But for the United States to be embroiled in a civil war in Syria against Assad I think is a big mistake,” Kasich said.
- During the ninth Republican presidential primary debate on February 13, 2016, Kasich discussed how he would handle Russia: “First of all, look, we have to make it clear to Russia what we expect. We don’t have to declare an enemy, rattle a sword or threaten, but we need to make it clear what we expect. Number one is we will arm the folks in Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom. They deserve it. There will be no ifs, ands or buts about it. Secondly, an attack on NATO, trumped up on any excuse of Russian- speaking people, either in the NATO countries or in Finland or Sweden is going to be an attack on us. And look, I think we have an opportunity as America to put something really great together again. The Egyptians, the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Gulf states, they all know they’re at risk. We need to look into Europe, we look at France, we look at Germany and the migrants. We look at Belgium, we look at Britain. Everybody now is being threaten by radical Islam. We have an opportunity to lead. You know, the fact of the matter is the world is desperate for our leadership. Sometimes they may — they may make a remark here or there that we don’t like, but frankly, the world needs us. And we have an opportunity now to assemble a coalition of the civilized people, those who respect civilization, the rights of women, the rights to protest, to be able to reassert our leadership all across this globe again and make sure this century is going to be the best we’ve ever seen.”
- During a campaign event in New Hampshire on February 3, 2016, John Kasich expressed his support for Israel in their attempts to create peace with Palestinians. Kasich said, “Israel has given a lot of stuff back. They gave Gaza back. How is that working out? They have everything launching into Israel. I don’t know how you get a two-state solution when people are walking into your country and stabbing people. I will say this: Recognize the State of Israel, guarantee their permanent security, stop launching Katyusha rockets into Israel, stop sending in people with knives to kill people in Israel — they went from rocks to knives now — and knock it off. And then, I think you can get to a two-state solution. … Every day that you go by without there being major problems there, that is a win. And I can tell you, we are not going to bully Israel; it’s their survival. It’s just very serious stuff. It’s like – man, we want to survive.” Kasich was also critical of the Obama administration and its handling of the relationship with Israel..
- Kasich accused the Chinese government of manipulating the stock market on January 7, 2016, and creating the drop in markets seen across the globe. He said, “This has got to settle down if the Chinese are participating in being part of the market basket … They have to come clean … They can’t keep manipulating things because it just doesn’t work.”
- At the fifth GOP primary debate on December 15, 2015, Kasich said of Bashar Al-Assad: “I don’t understand this thing about Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go.”
Iran nuclear deal
- Marco Rubio issued a joint letter with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on August 19, 2015, calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to make public letters he sent to the French, British, German and Chinese governments about the snapback provisions of the Iran nuclear deal. “These letters appear to reassure these foreign governments that their companies may not be impacted if sanctions are re-imposed in response to Iranian violations of the agreement. While Administration officials have claimed that this is not the case, we think it is important for the American public to be able to read your assurances to foreign governments for themselves as their elected representatives review this deal in the coming weeks,” the senators wrote.
- On July 24, 2015, Rubio insisted the next president does not have to honor the Iran nuclear deal even if Congress approves it. “This is a deal with the Obama administration. It is not a treaty. It is not binding on the next president. And I anticipate that the next president of the United States may very well – and if it’s me, I will – reimpose the American sanctions that are in the law right now,” Rubio said.
- On July 21, 2015, Rubio released a statement criticizing President Obama for not prioritizing the release of international journalist Jason Rezaian and other detainees in Iran during negotiations with the country. Rubio said, “It is unacceptable that the Obama Administration missed an opportunity to make the freedom of Jason, as well as Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, and obtaining information about missing Floridian Robert Levinson, a priority in its negotiations with Iran. Jason should not be behind bars for his profession as a journalist, and he should be released unconditionally.”
- On July 15, 2015, Rubio remarked on Obama and the final Iran deal, calling it “an exhibit in his presidential library.” He continued, “Look at the press coverage of this issue: Some of it’s been glowing as some sort of historic deal — it’s ridiculous. A third-rate autocracy has now been given equality with a world power, with the United States of America. They are now a nuclear threshold country on a deal signed with the United States and other global powers. That’s why they’re cheering in the streets [of] Tehran; that’s why they’re celebrating. You don’t see any celebrations in America. You don’t see any celebrations in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, because they know this is a one-sided deal.”
- On April 2, 2015, Rubio released the following statement on the Iran nuclear deal: “I look forward to hearing from administration officials what specific terms Iran has agreed to as part of what was supposed to be a comprehensive framework agreement, but the initial details appear to be very troubling. Through more than a decade of efforts to resolve international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, this regime has consistently lied about its ambitions and hidden the true nature of its efforts from the world. Among other issues, allowing Iran to retain thousands of centrifuges, keeping facilities such as Fordow open and not limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate to me that this deal is a colossal mistake. This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran. Under this President’s watch, Iran has expanded its influence in the Middle East, sowing instability throughout the region. Iran’s support for terrorism has continued unabated without a serious response from the United States. The regime’s repression of the Iranian people and its detentions of American citizens continue. And now Tehran is gaining international acceptance of its nuclear ambitions and will receive significant sanctions relief without making serious concessions. I intend to work with my colleagues to continue to ensure that any final agreement, if reached, is reviewed by Congress and that additional sanctions continue to be imposed on Iran until it completely gives up its nuclear ambitions and the regime changes its destructive behavior. Our message to Iran should be clear: until the regime chooses a different path, the United States will continue to isolate Iran and impose pressure. Today’s announcement takes us in the opposite direction, and I fear it will have devastating consequences for nuclear non-proliferation, the security of our allies and partners, and for U.S. interests in the region.”
Military preparedness and budget
- On November 8, 2015, Marco Rubio argued that cutting defense spending is “unsustainable, dangerous and reckless.” He said, “We need to get back to funding our defenses because it is the most important thing the federal government does. …Defense spending is not the reason why we have a debt. It’s not the driver of our national debt. Our national debt, especially long-term, is driven by mandatory spending programs that need to be reformed.” Rubio also commented on Vladimir Putin saying, “He’s a gangster, but he’s a rational, cost-benefit analysis guy. He makes decisions based on geopolitical realities, and in the case of Europe, the benefits of what he’s doing in Europe outweigh the costs that Russia now is bearing militarily as a result.”
- As a member of the 114th Congress, Rubio serves on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
- During the 2014 budget debate, Rubio said in his floor speech, “Especially during this dangerous time when our enemies would be emboldened to see us abandon our allies around the world, I cannot support a budget that would make the world less safe place because the U.S. defense capabilities and our ability to influence events around the world are diminished.”
- After it was reported on January 11, 2016, that Marco Rubio would miss a closed-door Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on North Korea to attend a fundraiser in Miami, Rubio’s campaign postponed the fundraiser to avoid the scheduling conflict. Rubio’s Senate spokesman said the senator also would get a separate briefing on January 12, 2016, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as attending the State of the Union, vote on auditing the Federal Reserve and meet with the King of Jordan about the refugee crisis in Syria. Rubio’s move comes after he has been criticized by other GOP presidential candidates for missing votes.
- After reports surfaced that North Korea “claimed to have conducted the successful test of a hydrogen bomb” on January 5, 2016, Marco Rubio criticized President Obama for his inaction, which he linked to Hillary Clinton. He said, “I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by. If this test is confirmed, it will be just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy. Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama’s weakness. We need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong-un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe.”
- While speaking at the American Legion in New Hampshire on January 4, 2016, Rubio criticized his “isolationist” rivals for endangering the U.S. He said, “On the other side of this election is the party of Reagan, the party of strong national defense and moral clarity, yet we have Republican candidates who propose that rulers like Assad and 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. We have isolationist candidates who are apparently more passionate about weakening our military and intelligence capabilities than about destroying our enemies. They talk tough, yet they would strip us of the ability to keep our people safe.”
- Rubio positioned his national security platform as an alternative to “outdated political establishment” policies during a speech to factory workers at Granite State Manufacturing in Manchester, N.H. on November 5, 2015. “The nature of warfare is always changing and the leaders of the past are almost always blind to these changes,” Rubio said. He added that Hillary Clinton would “write the sequel to President Obama’s disastrous foreign policy.”
- Marco Rubio released a statement on February 10, 2016, in support of increased sanctions against North Korea. “Passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 is a first step toward applying more pressure to North Korea and those who do business with this corrupt regime. I was pleased to work with Senator Cory Gardner to specifically target the industries that North Korea uses to earn hard currency and to strengthen the bill’s provisions related to raising awareness of the plight of the North Korean people and funding activities to promote their human rights,” Rubio said.
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Rubio discussed how he would respond to North Korea: “Here’s the broader point, as well, and then I think it touches on what Donald just mentioned. Barack Obama views America as this arrogant global power that needed to be cut down to size. OK? This is a president that views this country as a country that’s been too powerful in the world and we create problems around the world. For example, it’s one of the reasons why he had betrayed Israel, because he believes that if we create separation from Israel, it will help our relations in the Islamic world. The same is happening in the Asia-Pacific region with accommodations to North Korea. North Korean should be back on that list of terrorist nations, as an example. And Donald’s absolutely right. China does have a lot of influence over North Korea and he should be leveraging our relationship with the Chinese to ensure that North Korea no longer has access to the resources that have allowed them — a country that has no economy to develop long range missiles already capable of reaching the west coast of the United States potentially.”
- During an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation’ on January 17, 2016, Rubio discussed the four Americans who were released by the Iranian government hours before the nuclear deal was implemented. He said, “These people that were being held were hostages. None of them had violated any real laws. And in fact some of them weren’t even charged. One of them was a reporter. The other one was a pastor. They’d done nothing. The people America’s releasing – they were convicted in a court law after due process of violate sanctions. The president has pardoned them in exchange for a release of hostages which had done nothing wrong and it proves once again now that nations and enemies of America around the world know there’s a price for Americans. … If you take an American hostage, Barack Obama will cut a deal with you, whether it’s Bergdahl, what he did with the Castro brothers, and now what he’s done with Iran.”
- During the sixth Republican presidential primary debate, on January 14, 2016, Rubio talked about the U.S. relationship with China: “We are all frustrated with what China is doing. I think we need to be very careful with tariffs, and here’s why. China doesn’t pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there’s a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to price to the consumer. So I think the better approach, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves against China economically is to make our economy stronger, which means reversing course from all the damage Barack Obama is doing to this economy. It begins with tax reform. Let’s not have the most expensive business tax rate in the world. Let’s allow companies to immediately expense. It continues with regulatory reform. Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the [Environmental Protection Agency], the EPA, and all of the rules they continue to impose on our economy and hurting us. How about Obamacare, a certified job killer? It needs to be repealed and replaced. And we need to bring our debt under control, make our economy stronger. That is the way to deal with China at the end of the day.”
Iran nuclear deal
- On September 8, 2015, Donald Trump authored an article for USA Today criticizing the Iran nuclear deal. “It was amateur hour for those charged with striking this deal with Iran, demonstrating to the world, yet again, the total incompetence of our president and politicians. It appears we wanted a deal at any cost rather than following the advice of Ronald Reagan and walking away because ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’” wrote Trump.
- In an interview with the Daily Caller published on September 7, 2015, Trump said of the Iran nuclear deal, “If somebody was telling me about how bad the contract is and how they hate the country — how do you sign a contract like this? And that’s the least of it. The contract is a disaster in virtually every way, and one way that people haven’t even talked about: they have an attack clause. If anybody attacks them, we have to protect them. What happens if Israel attacks them? Nobody has been able to answer that question yet, including [Secretary of State John Kerry] .”
- During Trump’s speech announcing his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015, he suggested that a deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons could destroy Israel.
- In March 2015, when asked on FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor” why he thought negotiations with Iran were failing, Trump said the deal was taking too long to complete. Pointing to the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, Trump said the Iranians were “great negotiators” and the Obama administration contained “terrible negotiators.” He added that sanctions should have been doubled or tripled prior to negotiation, and that Secretary of State John Kerry might have to walk away from the negotiating table.
- In his 2011 book, Time to Get Tough, Trump stated, “America’s primary goal with Iran must be to destroy its nuclear ambitions. Let me put them as plainly as I know how: Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped–by any and all means necessary. Period. We cannot allow this radical regime to acquire a nuclear weapon that they will either use or hand off to terrorists.”
Military preparedness and budget
- Donald Trump released his Veterans Administration reform package on October 31, 2015. The plan would allow veterans to receive care from any medical services provider that accepts Medicare using his or her identification card. He also called for increased job training and improved care for veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. Trump also promised to reduce wait times for veterans by making it easier to fire VA executives and modernizing the agency’s technology infrastructure. Trump’s proposal did not provide information on how much it would cost or how he would pay for the policy.  
- The Village Voice reported on October 12, 2015, that the veterans’ hotline Trump’s campaign established in July 2015 “was basically nonfunctioning.” When one veteran eventually reached a staffer, he was instructed to provide documentation regarding his condition. After he did so and received a response thanking him for his service without any further information, the veteran contacted Trump’s campaign to ask what they intended to do with his information. He received an email that said, “We have a team of vets collecting stories and reforms for improving the VA and veteran benefits. Your story will be part of what we compile and produce for Mr. Trump to study. Your information is confidential.”
- In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump states that spending 3 percent of GNP on defense spending was too low because “[y]ou can’t pursue forward military and foreign-policy objectives on a backward military budget.” Trump cautions, however, that defense spending should not focus on a missile defense system. He explained, “I’m not laughing at missile defense, and I never have. The question isn’t whether or not such a defense can be built. The question is whether it is the right defense for our times. And I believe the answer is, largely, no. In this age of miniaturization, our real threat is not going to be flying in on a missile. It’s going to be delivered in a van, or a suitcase, or a fire-hydrant-sized canister.”
- On February 19, 2016, Trump called for his supporters to boycott Apple until it assists the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation into the San Bernardino shooters.
- During a campaign stop in South Carolina on February 17, 2016, Donald Trump expressed support for enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. He said, “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work. Torture works, OK folks? I think we should go much stronger than waterboarding, that’s the way I feel. They’re chopping off heads, believe me, we should go much stronger.”
- At the ninth Republican presidential primary debate on February 13, 2016, Trump talked about the war in Iraq: “Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake. All right? Now, you can take it any way you want, and it took — it took Jeb Bush, if you remember at the beginning of his announcement, when he announced for president, it took him five days. He went back, it was a mistake, it wasn’t a mistake. It took him five days before his people told him what to say, and he ultimately said, ‘it was a mistake.’ The war in Iraq, we spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, we don’t even have it. Iran has taken over Iraq with the second-largest oil reserves in the world. Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”
- During the ninth Republican presidential primary debate on February 13, 2016, Trump discussed the three questions that he would ask his national security experts on his first day in office: “What we want to do, when we want to do it, and how hard do we want to hit? Because we are going to have to hit very, very hard to knock out ISIS. We’re going to also have to learn who our allies are. We have allies, so-called allies, we’re spending billions and billions of dollars supporting people — we have no idea who they are in Syria. Do we want to stay that route, or do we want to go and make something with Russia? I hate to say Iran, but with Russia, because we — and the Iran deal is one of the worst deals I have ever seen negotiated in my entire life. It’s a disgrace that this country negotiated that deal. But very important… Not only a disgrace, it’s a disgrace and an embarrassment. But very important, who are we fighting with? Who are we fighting for? What are we doing? We have to rebuild our country. But we have to — I’m the only one on this stage that said, ‘Do not go into Iraq. Do not attack Iraq.’ Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong. And I was in the private sector. I wasn’t a politician, fortunately. But I said it, and I said it loud and clear, ‘You’ll destabilize the Middle East.’ That’s exactly what happened. I also said, by the way, four years ago, three years ago, attack the oil, take the wealth away, attack the oil and keep the oil. They didn’t listen. They just started that a few months ago.”
- During an interview with Fox News on February 9, 2016, Trump criticized Senator John McCain’s handling of the problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs and his stance on waterboarding. He said, “John McCain is a nice man. I like John McCain. But he has not been effective in taking care of the Veterans Administration. The veterans are absolutely in a bad way, they’re being treated worse in many cases than illegal immigrants that come over our borders.” On the issue of waterboarding, which McCain opposes and has criticized some of the presidential candidates for stating that they would utilize the technique, Trump said, “As far as John McCain is concerned, when you say we can’t waterboard but they can chop off the heads of Christians and they can chop off the heads of everybody in the Middle East as far as they want, I think that’s pretty bad. So I said I’m totally in favor of waterboarding. Waterboarding is peanuts compared to chopping off heads.” 
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Trump said, as president, he would bring back waterboarding: “Well, I’ll tell you what. In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people. We have things that we have never seen before — as a group, we have never seen before, what’s happening right now. The medieval times — I mean, we studied medieval times — not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
- On February 8, 2016, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took issue with Trump’s support waterboarding. “It is important to remember the facts: that these forms of torture not only failed their purpose to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies, but compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little practical good,” McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said. McCain, who was tortured while held in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, has been a vocal opponent of waterboarding and suggested that the Republican candidates should remember the fallout from the Bush administration’s Abu Ghraib scandal, when human rights groups found that U.S. soldiers were abusing and torturing detainees at the Iraqi prison.
- On CNN’s New Day on December 8, 2015, Trump said, unless his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country is adopted, “You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it — many, many more and probably beyond the World Trade Center. They want our buildings to come down; they want our cities to be crushed. They are living within our country. And many of them want to come from outside our country.” When asked how long he would keep the ban on allowing Muslims into the country, Trump said, “It’s until the country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.”
- Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the Associated Press reported December 7, 2015. “The proposed ban would apply to immigrants and visitors alike, a sweeping prohibition affecting all adherents of Islam who want to come to the U.S. According to the AP, Trump’s campaign said in a statement the ban should be in place “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The statement continued, “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” The idea faced an immediate challenge to its legality and feasibility from experts was swiftly condemned by his rival GOP candidates for president and other Republicans, the article said.
- Donald Trump suggested on February 10, 2016, that China should “disappear” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. When asked if he meant a political assassination, Trump responded, “Well, you know, I’ve heard of worse things, frankly. I mean this guy’s a bad dude – and don’t underestimate him. Any young guy that can take over from his father with all those generals and everybody else that probably wants the position, this is not somebody to be underestimated.”
- At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Trump discussed how he would respond to North Korea: “We have — tremendous — has been just sucked out of our country by China. China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous — the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan. I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they’re rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That’s what we should do with North Korea.”
- Trump said on January 6, 2016, that North Korea’s aggression should be addressed by China. He said, “If they don’t solve that problem, we should be very tough on them on trade — meaning, start charging them tax or start cutting them off. You’d have China collapse in about two minutes.” He added that South Korea should pay the U.S. “very substantially for protecting them.”
- During a campaign rally on December 19, 2015, Trump said of U.S.-Russia relations, “I mean you look, we’re all tough guys, but wouldn’t it be nice if like Russia and us could knock out an enemy together? Russia has plenty of problems, but I’ll tell you what, if Putin likes me, and he thinks I’m a good, smart person, which, I mean I hope he believes it.” Trump added. “I mean I am brilliant actually … If he says something positive, that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing.”
- In October 2014, Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize President Barack Obama for not stopping flights from West Africa during the 2014 ebola outbreak. Trump had previously tweeted in August 2014 that people who travel to West Africa to provide medical assistance “are great” but “must suffer the consequences.”
- In 2000, Trump advocated for preparations in case of a biological attack in his book, The America We Deserve. He wrote, “We need to stockpile antibiotics in major population areas and train emergency workers to respond quickly to biological attack. We need to develop and deploy sensors in major cities that will give us early warning that biological devices have been detonated. Remember, these microbes can take a while to spread, so any warning we have will help to save lives. We need to keep a close eye on former Soviet bio-technicians, offering them jobs where we can and steering them clear of terrorist regimes.”
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