The 2016 Republican presidential field has been positioning itself firmly against President Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda, but when it comes to the latest airstrikes against jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State and the Khorasan Group in Syria, the criticism is much more muted.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) released a statement on Tuesday morning shortly before Obama made his own remarks about the strikes, which occurred the night before. The US was already bombing Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — in Iraq, Monday’s operations expanded the campaign to Syria. Rubio, an advocate of a more aggressive US foreign policy, praised the administration’s actions.
“I support the President’s actions to target ISIL’s facilities in Syria. I have argued for months that President Obama has the authority to confront this threat to the United States wherever they seek refuge. Defeating this menace to all who value freedom and tolerance will not be easy, but is essential to our security,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with our men and women in uniform carrying out their duties as part of ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria.”
Other potential presidential candidates, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have focused their criticism on the Obama administration’s legal authority to conduct the strikes. The White House has insisted the operations are legal under a 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
On Tuesday, Paul told Business Insider he supports the strikes themselves, but still believes Obama must get approval for them from Congress.
“I support military action against ISIS but continue to believe the Constitution requires the President to receive Congressional authorization,” Paul said in a statement.
Cruz didn’t immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider. However, the Texas senator has similarly called for congressional authorization in the past when discussing plans to confront ISIS.
“Congress has the authority to declare war,” Cruz has said. “I believe initiating new military hostilities in a sustained basis in Iraq obligates the president to go back to Congress and to make the case to seek congressional authorization.”
Business Insider also reached out to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee who some speculate could be a 2016 contender, for his opinion on the Syria strikes. Ryan has previously stated his broader support for airstrikes against ISIS.
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