Politics

How The Presidential Candidates Responded To The Attacks in Brussels

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

At least 34 people are dead and hundreds more wounded after terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Details about the attacks — which occurred during Brussels’ Tuesday morning rush hour — are still emerging.

As the news continued to develop on Tuesday, U.S. presidential candidates offered their reactions to the bombings. And their responses were diverse — some focused on border security, while others took aim at “radical Islam.” Only one candidate didn’t mention Islam or jihad in their response before it was clear that ISIS was responsible for the attacks.

Here’s what each candidate had to say.

Ted Cruz: “Radical Islam is at war with us.”

Though the death toll was still rising and a culprit had not been named, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released a statement placing the blame squarely on “radical Islam.”

“The truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to name it,” Cruz said. “That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president.”


Cruz also preemptively called out President Obama, predicting that he would warn U.S. citizens not to engage in Islamophobia. Cruz said that Americans should not heed Obama’s advice.


Hillary Clinton: “We’ve got to tighten our security.”

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton appeared on The Today Show on Tuesday morning to denounce the attacks, calling them “deeply distressing” and calling for increased security measures, like reforming the American visa system.

“We have to intensify our effort to find and prevent terrorists from ever doing this again,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to tighten our security.”

Clinton also seemed to take a strike at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who has called for closing the borders in the wake of terrorist attacks. “It’s unrealistic to say we’re going to completely shut down our borders to everyone,” she said. “That would stop commerce, for example, and that’s not in anybody’s interest.”

Clinton also released a statement shortly after her appearance on Today, saying terrorists “seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life, but they will never succeed.”


John Kasich: “We must utterly reject the use of deadly acts of terror.”

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the bombings were “attacks against our very way of life and against the democratic values upon which our political systems have been built.” He called for strengthened alliances with other countries in the wake of the deadly attacks.

As of Tuesday morning, Kasich was the only candidate who did not mention Islam or jihad in his comments denouncing the attacks before it was clear who was responsible for the attacks.


Donald Trump: “We have to be very careful about who comes into our country.”

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump had multiple television appearances Tuesday morning, during which he doubled down on some of his controversial policy proposals: Banning Muslims from entering the country, building a border wall, and using torture techniques on suspected terrorists.


“Frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine,” Trump said. “If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people.”

Bernie Sanders: “Come together to destroy ISIS.”

The last candidate to comment on the terrorist attack was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who released a statement offering his “deepest condolences” and calling on the international community to “come together to destroy ISIS” after the militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this barbaric attack and to the people of Brussels who were the target of another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians,” he wrote. “We stand with our European allies to offer any necessary assistance in these difficult times. Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy ISIS. This type of barbarism cannot be allowed to continue.”


Alice Ollstein and Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani contributed to this report.

This piece has been updated to reflect Sen. Bernie Sanders’ statement, which was made after ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels.