Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a 2016 presidential candidate, said the U.S. is going to have to go back to Iraq to delegitimize ISIS by taking their land.
“We abandoned Iraq. If you’re a Sunni and we made a deal with you in the Anbar awakening and said we’re going to fight with you, we’re going to take back this territory from al-Qaeda and we’re going to be here to make sure the Shiites in Baghdad treat you well. And you have support from us to make sure you are safe and that you can reclaim your towns and villages and be prosperous again, and then a few years later we leave,” Santorum said at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidate forum in Washington.
“Now, we are going to have to go back, and if we are going to defeat ISIS we are going to have to go back to those same people we’ve abandoned once and convince them we’re not going to do it again. It’s a hard job. It’s not a job I think very many people will be able to be successful. I think I will be because we’ve got a record that everybody knows – my commitment to making sure we defeat these radicals and stand by the Muslims in the region who want to regain their territory for a more peaceful version of Islam.”
Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-Va.), a GOP presidential candidate, said Congress does not need to declare war on ISIS because they are not a state.
“I do believe in declarations of war but I am not willing to say that ISIS is a state, and usually declarations of war are against a state. You don’t declare war against an international guerrilla movement,” he said.
“We should not give them the credit of being a state. They’re an intentional gang of terrorists terrorizing people through force of arms, creating acts of barbarity, burning people up in cages, enslaving women, cutting people’s heads off, this is not a civilized nation within the modern day.”
Gilmore called the expansion of ISIS an “ongoing battle” the U.S. should fight with its best assets to protect the American people.
“That’s what I would do as president. I’m the only candidate that has the experience. I’m the only candidate who is a United States Army veteran actually assigned during the Cold War overseas,” he said. “I’m the governor who was the governor during the 9/11 attack and I was the governor who was the chairman of the National Commission on Homeland Security and Terrorism for the U.S. government for 5 years. I have a real depth of experience in this that the other candidates just don’t have.”
Santorum disagreed with Gilmore’s assessment.
“He [Gilmore] sounds like Barack Obama – that’s what Barack Obama says. You shouldn’t wage war because they are not a state. Gov. Gilmore called them ISIS – you know what ISIS means: Islamic State,” he said. “So he just called them a state and says we shouldn’t refer to them as a state.”
Santorum, who also ran for president in 2012, said the key to defeating ISIS is to take back their land, which means “the U.S. must wage war and defeat them and take territory back to delegitimize them in the Muslim world.”
He called for several thousand more troops in Iraq to combat ISIS.
“We have about 4,000 troops in the region. We need probably several thousand more and we need those who can work in consort with the Kurds, with the Iraq Sunnis to join them in their formations to provide the eyes, the ears, the leadership that is necessary,” he said. “We’ve done this before. It’s been very successful. I’ve talked to dozens of fighters who have come back from war and they’ve told me, ‘Look, the Iraqis will fight if they have the necessary support from the United States, but if they don’t they won’t because they know they can’t win.’”
Former Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.), another GOP presidential candidate, said he is in favor of a declaration of war against ISIS without the limitations of the Obama administration’s draft proposal.
“I think we have to maintain the Constitution and the president’s powers limited by the War Powers Act, whether or not that’s constitutional or not I don’t know, but I do think it would be the right message for Congress to pass such an authorization,” he said after his speech at the forum.
Pataki also weighed in on the Republican donors and super PACs spending money specifically to attack GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“I’m not going to tell any group what they should or shouldn’t do, but I do believe Donald Trump should not be the Republican nominee. I don’t think he has shown the qualities that you need in a president. There are a lot of good, quality Republican candidates,” he said.
Pataki said he has a “totally different approach” to national security and immigration compared to Trump.
“The idea that we are going to kill the families of Muslim terrorists is just absurd. The idea that we are going to put 11 million people on buses and trains and send them somewhere – including American citizens who were born here and have never left the country – is absurd. His comments about POWs who have risked their lives to defend our country is unacceptable,” he said.