- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

GOP presidential contender Lindsey Graham said Tuesday he has been calling for more American combat troops to be sent into the Middle East to destroy the Islamic State before it was the hip thing to do in the GOP presidential race and criticized fellow Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for not echoing that sentiment.

“Sen. Paul and Sen. Cruz are both isolationist,” Mr. Graham said, arguing that the United States should go after ISIS in Iraq and Syria and reinstate the NSA’s controversial bulk metadata program.

“If you are worried about somebody having your phone number in the government, don’t be,” Mr. Graham said in the undercard GOP debate.

The face-off also featured former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former New York Gov. George Pataki.

The issue of surveillance has become a dividing line in the GOP presidential field after lawmakers voted over the summer to curb the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk metadata program.

Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz have come under fire from several of their rivals for opposing the metadata collection program.

SEE ALSO: Lindsey Graham declares ‘I miss George W. Bush’

Mr. Paul has warned against putting more boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while Mr. Cruz has said he would leave that option on the table, but would first rely on a more aggressive airstrike campaign against the Islamic State before considering ground troops.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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