Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued Monday that one line from President Barack Obama encapsulates both his entire foreign policy and that of his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Cruz, a presidential candidate, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that Obama’s statement was a “stunning indictment” of his own policies in the wake of last week’s terror attack in Paris, France.
Obama made the remark at a press conference in Turkey earlier in the day:
What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning,’ or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and protect our allies and people like France.
During his Monday-evening interview with Hewitt, Cruz said he was taken aback. He also used the opportunity to link Obama to Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner who he said would be ill-equipped to defeat the Islamic State militants who claimed credit for the Paris attack.
“I think in that one sentence, President Obama has summed up the entirety of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy,” Cruz said. “There is not a more stunning indictment of what has happened in the last seven years than his statement that he’s not interested in American leadership or America winning.”
The senator continued: “And indeed, the next sentence that he said after that was, ‘I don’t have time for that.’ And I’ve got to say, my view is precisely to the opposite.”
That line from Obama was widely shared among the administration’s critics on Monday as a sign that the president doesn’t actually care about American leadership or winning. But others argued that Obama’s comment was being taken out of its broader context, in which Obama said he has to deal with tough national-security decisions instead of sloganeering.
Indeed, Hewitt pointed to a Talking Points Memo story titled, “Ignore The Freakout: Here’s What Obama Really Said About ‘America Winning.'”
But Cruz held his ground.
“Why would a president not want America to lead?” he asked Hewitt. “Why would a president not want America to win?”
As far as his own approach to the Islamic State and terrorism in the Middle East, Cruz said it “should be very simple: We win, they lose.”
Watch Obama’s full statement below, via TPM:
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