More than 1,800 people Saturday heard Republican Ted Cruz offer a blistering indictment of the Obama administration’s record on national security, from the Iranian arms deal to domestic and foreign terrorism.
Cruz spoke at a forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, a group that has held similar events with other candidates. It took place at MorningStar Fellowship Church on the site of the old PTL ministry.
Speaking to reporters before the event, Cruz continued to spar with rival Donald Trump, questioning his authenticity as a conservative.
“We hear the conservative words you use, but have you walked the walk?” Cruz told reporters. “That is exactly what the men and women of South Carolina are assessing … And I would note that Donald’s record does not match what he says as a candidate.”
He continued to question Trump’s “New York values” and released a video of a 1999 Trump interview during which he called himself “very pro-choice.”
Cruz went on to talk about national security in front of the large audience inside the church sanctuary, answering questions from former CNN correspondent Jeanne Meserve. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the sponsoring group, said no issue is more important.
“The No. 1 issue that will affect the next commander-in-chief on Jan. 21, 2017, is national security,” he said.
Among the issues Cruz discussed:
▪ The Iranian nuclear deal. He called the administration’s Iranian nuclear agreement “the most colossal foreign policy mistake of modern times, and the result could be millions of dead Americans.”
Once elected, he said, “I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”
He pledged to immediately reimpose sanctions that would be lifted under the deal.
“You wanna know the stakes of 2016? In two sentences?” he said. “If Hillary Clinton is elected, Iran will acquire nuclear weapons. If I’m elected, the Ayatollah Khomeini will never have nuclear weapons.”
▪ The Islamic State. Cruz criticized President Barack Obama for not using the term “radical Islam.”
“We will call it by it’s name,” he said. “We will hunt them down and destroy them.… Very simple, we win. They lose.”
He called for using “overwhelming” air power to rout ISIS, as well as arming the Iraqui Kurds and embedding more special forces in the region.
▪ “Islamism.” Cruz said a common thread in most terrorism is “Islamism.”
“Islamism is a theocratic and political philosophy,” he said, “that mandates that its adherents commit violent jihad to murder infidels, and by infidels they define that to mean all of us, and to either kill us or forcibly convert us and subject us to Sharia law.”
▪ Obama. “This comander-in-chief has more loyalty to political correctness than he does to keeping American lives safe.”
Echoing Rogers, Cruz said voters have to answer one question.
“The most important judgment that the American people are making in this election is who is prepared to be commander-in-chief,” he said. “Who has the experience, who has the knowledge, who has the clarity of vision, who has the judgment and strength and resolve.”
“You do,” someone shouted from the audience.
Cruz attracted supporters as well as people trying to make up their minds ahead of South Carolina’s Feb. 20 GOP primary.
Tom Balek, a conservative blogger from Lake Wylie, called himself undecided. But only in the primary.
“I would crawl over broken glass to keep Hillary Clinton from being elected,” he said.