President Obama intensified his criticism Wednesday of Republicans for trying to block Syrian refugees from emigrating to the U.S., saying the GOP is giving in to “hysteria.”
“We are not well served when, in response ot a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Mr. Obama said at a summit in Manila, the Phillipines. “We don’t make good decisions if its based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”
He even blamed Republicans for playing into the hands of terrorists by trying to block Muslim refugees from coming to the U.S.
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for [the Islamic State] than some of the rhetoric thats been coming out of here during the course of this debate,” the president said.
In an apparent reference to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, Mr. Obama said some of the same people who have suggested stopping refugees from coming into the country also have suggested that they are tough enough to just stare down Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said. “At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
Mr. Obama said the anti-Syrian sentiment in the U.S. “needs to stop because the world is watching.”
“They’ve been playing on fear to score political points or to advance their campaigns and it’s irresponsible,” he said of the Republican candidates.
The president said he was “proud” after the Boston Marathon bombings that “we did not resort to fear and panic.”
“Boston Strong — people went to the ball game that same week, and sang the national anthem,” he said. “And went back to the stores and went back to the streets. That’s how you defeat ISIL, not by trying to divide the country.”