- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lagging GOP presidential candidates are moving to capitalize on the Paris terrorist attacks driving national security to the fore, making the case that their extensive government experience — a negative to many voters — is now a boon as the country searches for a leader to combat the Islamic State.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has struggled to convince voters of the value of his nearly two decades in Washington and two terms as governor, delivered a speech Tuesday vowing to lead an international coalition against the terrorists, with his campaign saying he’s got the chops to do it thanks to 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee.

“We must be swift. We must be decisive and we must be absolute,” Mr. Kasich said in a speech in Washington.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and senior member of the Armed Services Committee, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother launched the war on terror in 2001, are also hoping to gain ground by showing their experience.

Mr. Bush will deliver a high-profile address at The Citadel Wednesday, while Mr. Graham is reminding voters that he has been warning for years about the need to move more aggressively to wipe out radical Islamists.

“There is a 9/11 coming and it’s coming from Syria if we don’t disrupt their operations inside of Syria,” Mr. Graham said on CNN. “So, what I’m suggesting to presidents, to Democrats and Republicans, listen to what I have been saying and follow my advice.”

The three men are hoping voters will abandon their pessimism for public service resumes.

“The world changed this weekend in a lot of ways, and I think as we get closer to the election it will become aware to people that we are electing a president of the United States, a commander in chief of our armed forces,” Mr. Bush said during a campaign stop in South Carolina Tuesday.

Until now, the race had been dominated by political neophytes, businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who lack foreign policy experience.

Behind them are Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — elected in 2010 and 2012, respectively — and who are themselves running as outsiders.

Mr. Graham, who is serving his third term in the Senate after eight years in the House, has more D.C. experience than the sum of Mr. Rubio, Mr. Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another candidate.

The South Carolina senator has been driving home the message on the campaign trail that he is “ready to be commander in chief on day one.”

He released a plan to restore stability in the Middle East three days after the attack in Paris, calling for 10,000 American troops to be sent to Iraq to fight extremist groups and to train and advise Iraqi forces. He said the U.S. and its allies should create a force of about 100,000 to take out the Islamic State.

The Bush camp, meanwhile, said the former governor plans to outline his vision for the “path forward in our war against ISIS and radical Islam” and call for rebuilding the military in his address Wednesday.

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