GOP debate without Trump, candidates touch on IS, Iran, Islamophobia

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (KUNA) — Donald Trump was absent from the Republican debate on Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, four days before its caucus where the candidates continued to tackle the usual topics of combating the so-called Islamic State (IS), Iranian sanctions, Islamophobia and a range of domestic issues.
Trump chose to opt out of the debate claiming that moderator Megyn Kelly was biased and treated him unfairly in the last Fox News debate. The network choose to keep Kelly on the program so instead the front-runner hosted a sold out fundraising event for veterans in Iowa at the same time.
At his fundraising event Trump claimed that Fox had “apologized” to him. The network responded in its own statement that, “Trump offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that Fox News contribute USD five million to his charities. We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason.” “Before we get to the issues, let’s address the elephant not in the room tonight,” said Kelly to Texas Senator Ted Cruz at the start of the evening.
He responded by mocking Trump, “Let me say I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben (Carson), you’re a terrible surgeon.” Cruz added, “If Donald engages in insults or anybody else, I don’t intend to reciprocate. I have not insulted Donald personally and I don’t intend to … I am glad Donald is running. I’m glad he has produced enormous enthusiasm, and, every Donald Trump voter or potential voter, I hope to earn your support.” The conversation quickly changed to improving the US fight against IS.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “When I’m president we are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities. And they’re going to tell us where the terrorists are. And a rebuilt US military is going to destroy these terrorists. And if we capture any of these ISIS killers alive, they are going to Guantanamo Bay.” On the same subject, Cruz said, “You want to know what carpet bombing is? It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf war; 1,100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy. Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. He’s not arming the Kurds. We need to define the enemy.” Ohio Governor John Kasich added, “I was there when we went into the Gulf War. We didn’t win that war just from the air, we won that war by assembling a group of Arab leaders who stood in the Rose Garden and stood with America. We want to destroy ISIS, it has to be in the air and on the ground. It has to be with our friends in the Arab world and our friends in Europe.” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul attacked several of the candidate’s approach to fighting the terrorist group, “In fact, they want to bomb ISIS and Assad simultaneously. I think that’s a really, really bad idea.” Paul continued, “If you defeat Assad, what you will wind up with is a larger and more powerful ISIS that occupies that space. You may well see an ISIS that takes over all of Syria.” Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stressed, “Get the lawyers off the damn backs of the military once and for all. Have a no fly zone in Syria and create safe zones to deal with the refugees. But, more importantly, to train a Sunni-led force in Syria to take out ISIS with our support ground and air.” Moving towards domestic threats of IS terrorism Rubio said, “Radical Muslims and radical Islam is not just hate talk. It’s hate action. They blow people up … the threat we face from ISIS is unprecedented.” When asked when it is appropriate to racially profile a suspected radicalized terrorist New Jersey Governor Chris Christie answered, “It’s not for them (Americans) to make those decisions about whether or not something is legal or illegal, or profiling or not. You see something that’s suspicious, you call law enforcement and let law enforcement make those decisions.” Later shifting to Iran, Rubio described the country as, “not just a normal nation state,” and called the Supreme Leader Khamenei a “radical Shia cleric who has an apocalyptic vision of the future.” “He views himself not simply as the leader of Iran, but as the leader of all Shia Muslims on the planet. And they have a desire not simply to conquer the Middle East and to become the dominant power in that region, but ultimately to be able to hold America hostage,” said Rubio.
He said that the first day he becomes President he would end the Iran deal and countries must choose to, “do business with Iran, or they can do business with America.” Kasich pushed for sanctions to be “slapped back on” only if there is a violation of the agreement but cautioned, “I’m worried about money. You read about all the companies that are about to do business in Iran, and if we don’t get this settled now, with other countries in the world, about sanctions, then Iran could violate that agreement, and we’re the only ones putting the sanctions on.” This debate was focused more on issues rather than inflated aggressions and split screen arguments. Attacks were primarily against Obama and the Democratic party. Fox News analytical data reported conservatives to have most favored a line by Rubio directed to Iowan voters.
“You will be the first Americans that get to answer the fundamental question, what comes next for this country after seven disastrous years of Barack Obama? And let me tell you what the answer better not be. It better not be Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is good candidate for president of Sweden.” (end) ak.gta