US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Republican presidential candidates vowed to take a tougher approach to Islamic State militants on Monday with Jeb Bush saying a larger troop presence is needed and Donald Trump saying he would consider closing some mosques in the United States.
The impact of the Paris attacks on the US presidential campaign for the November 2016 election has been swift and powerful with national security suddenly thrust back to the top of voters' concerns.
Republicans competing for their party's presidential nomination sounded out a variety of themes in their effort to appeal to conservatives who feel President Barack Obama's reliance on airstrikes to counter the rise of Islamic State has been weak.
Several raised specific concerns about Obama's plan to bring into the United States as many as 10,000 refugees from the Syria conflict. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a low-polling Republican candidate, announced he had suspended any settlement of Syrian refugees in his state, an action five other governors have taken.
Bush faced a special challenge - to sound tough without seeming too much like his brother, former President George W. Bush, whose 2003 invasion of Iraq is now considered by many to have been a blunder.
Jeb Bush, who is to give a national security speech on Wednesday in South Carolina, said on several television programs that American soldiers were needed to provide leadership in the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq but did not call for a massive reintroduction of troops into Iraq.
He wants a no-fly zone over Syria and a more aggressive US diplomatic effort to build an international coalition to combat the militant group following attacks in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people.
"It would require more boots on the ground, as you will, more troops on the ground, more special operators ... More involvement, for sure, but in a leadership role," Bush said on CBS's "This Morning" program.
He said more US troops should be embedded in the Iraqi army, provide more training for peshmerga forces and work more with the Sunni tribal leaders.
"We can't do this alone ... but we can lead," Bush said.
OBAMA SAYS NO US TROOPS IN COMBAT
Obama, adamant about limiting US casualties, told a news conference after a G-20 summit in Turkey that it would be a mistake for the United States to switch its strategy and put US troops in combat against Islamic State. He recently ordered 50 more US special operations forces to Iraq to help guide anti-Islamic State airstrikes.
Republicans also expressed worries about the possibility of Muslims becoming radicalized in the United States or militants entering the country as refugees from the Syrian conflict after reports that one of the Paris attackers might have been a refugee.
Candidate Ben Carson said all programs that allow Syrian refugees into the United States should be defunded and that refugees already in the country should be closely monitored.
If elected, Trump told MSNBC he would consider shutting down Islamic mosques in the United States in an effort to combat the radicalization of Muslims.
"I would hate it do it but it's something that you're going to have to strongly consider because some of the ideas and some of the hatred, the absolute hatred, is coming from these areas," he said.
Bush said there should be some restrictions as well as special protections for Christians.
"There should be really thorough screening and we should focus on creating safe havens for refugees in Syria rather than bringing them all the way across to the United States," he told MSNBC.
Trump, the bombastic billionaire who leads most polls in the Republican field, said on CNBC: "We have no idea who these people are... We can not let them come into this country, period."
Trump also said he backed some US troops - perhaps 10,000 - in the region but would instead focus on targeting Islamic State's oil and banking operations.
US Senator Lindsey Graham, a candidate who has been the most hawkish on going to war against Islamic State, called on Obama to coordinate military efforts with the French and allies in the Middle East to combat the militants following the Paris attacks.
Graham, appearing on MSNBC, proposed coordinating the armies of the United States, France and "any NATO nation that would like to help" to form a ground force that would supplement the allied air campaign against Islamic State.