DES MOINES — Ted Cruz said here Saturday that the 2016 presidential race has entered a more serious phase following the shooting massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., and escalated his rhetoric on foreign policy with a vow to kill Islamic State terrorists.
“If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS," the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate told reporters. "We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. We will arm the Kurds. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know if you go and join ISIS, if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.”
Asked whether it was time for voters to apply more scrutiny to Donald Trump and Ben Carson, both political outsiders who have shown limited foreign policy expertise on the campaign trail, Cruz said that in the wake of recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, voters should more carefully evaluate every candidate's credentials.
"They’re looking at every candidate for president and assessing who’s prepared to be commander in chief, who has the experience, who has the clarity of vision, who has the strength and resolve to keep this country safe," Cruz said.
Also on Saturday, the Cruz campaign is beginning to air a new television ad in Iowa featuring a similar vow to "kill the terrorists."
Cruz's comments to reporters came during a pep rally in Des Moines with dozens of volunteers, many of whom came from Texas to stay at "Camp Cruz," a former college dormitory that the candidate's campaign has commandeered as temporary housing for volunteers.
Cruz repeatedly bashed President Obama and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Obama's first-term secretary of state, for what he called a weak foreign policy.
“When President Obama stands up and says the Islamic State is not Islamic, that’s just nutty," Cruz said. "That’s not a reasonable foreign policy discussion. That’s not an interesting view on national security. That is bizarre political correct blindness."