- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said he thought it was a mistake for the U.S. not to send a high-ranking official to Paris for Sunday’s unity rally that reportedly attracted more than a million people.

“Look, I understand when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package, which is intense,” Mr. Rubio said on “CBS This Morning.” “And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive. But [Attorney General] Eric Holder was in Paris and maybe [Secretary of State] John Kerry should have gone or somebody else, or a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight, I would hope that they would do it differently.”

More than 40 world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were on hand for the so-called unity rally in the wake of terrorist attacks in France last week that claimed the lives of 17 people.

Mr. Kerry, who is traveling to France later this week, told reporters from India that he would have liked to have been there but was in the country at a prior planned event and pointed to the presence of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the U.S. ambassador and many people from the embassy.

“The president and our administration have been coordinating very, very closely with the French on FBI matters, intel, law enforcement across the board and we will continue to make available any assistance that may be necessary,” Mr. Kerry said, pointing out that the United States “offered, from the first moment, our intel, our law enforcement and all of our efforts.”

Mr. Rubio, a possible contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, said the French are going through a trauma similar to what the U.S. faced after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that it would have been important to have someone there.

“But again, I understand why the president himself didn’t go, but perhaps, someone else from his administration,” he said.

Mr. Rubio said a planned White House summit on how to counter violent extremism will hopefully provide an opportunity to educate Americans on the nature of the threat and how difficult it is to identify threats and stop them.

“Because we are still thinking in light of 9/11. You know, these big spectacular attacks, somebody crashes a plane into a building. And that could very happen. I mean, that is a threat, too,” he said.

“But these sorts of independent actions by three or four people, in some instances, inspired by al Qaeda or inspired by ISIS, not trained by them, simply inspired by them and curious — [are] a real threat,” he continued.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another possible presidential contender on the GOP side, wrote in a piece for Time that Mr. Obama himself should have been there “because we must never hesitate to stand with our allies.”

“We should never hesitate to speak the truth. In Paris or anywhere else in the world,” he wrote.

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