Sen. Ted Cruz accused President Obama of hobnobbing with enemy leaders while America’s ally, Belgium, was attacked Tuesday — and he warned Republican voters that Donald Trump offers more of the same “moral relativism.”
Speaking at a brief press conference on Capitol Hill, Mr. Cruz also called for stiffer immigration controls and said the visa waiver program that allows many Europeans to enter the U.S. without having to undergo a full interview and in-person screening, is a relic of the pre-terrorist era.
And he said Mr. Obama made a mistake by visiting Cuba this week, where he’s been in meetings with leader Raul Castro and plans to attend an exhibition baseball game Tuesday.
“While our friends and allies are attacked by Islamic terrorism, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with Castro,” Mr. Cruz said.
About three dozen people were killed and more than 150 injured by bombings in Brussels. The attacks came just days after authorities apprehended the man they believe to be the orchestrator of last year’s terrorist attack in Paris.
The attack is already playing out in the presidential campaign. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ frontrunner, issued a statement offering her prayers and resolve, as the GOP candidates offered plans for action.
Mr. Trump, who has previously called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and for major changes to immigration programs, reiterated those plans Tuesday morning.
But Mr. Cruz, who is the top competitor to Mr. Trump in the GOP presidential race, seized on the billionaire businessman’s suggestion Monday night to CNN that NATO play a bigger role and the U.S. a lesser role on the world stage. Mr. Cruz said that was ironic because it came a day before the attacks in Brussels, which is home to the treaty alliance headquarters.
Mr. Cruz equated Mr. Trump’s NATO plans to what he said was a retreat from world leadership by Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.
“We have seen for seven years a president that cannot distinguish between our friends and our enemies, a president who cannot distinguish between the nation of Israel and Islamic terrorists who seek to murder us,” Mr. Cruz said. “And it would be a mistake to elect another president who buys into the same left-wing moral relativism that equates a terrorist blowing himself up and murdering innocent civilians, to the brave soldiers and law enforcement officers risking everything to keep us safe.”
But the plans he identified for dealing with terrorism seemed to distantly track Mr. Trump’s own plans, which include a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and a potential halt to the visa waiver program. Mr. Cruz said the U.S. needs to more closely scrutinize those it does allow into the U.S.
“Our vetting programs are woefully insufficient,” Mr. Cruz said.