Orlando has been the center of the Republican universe this weekend as most of the GOP 2016 Presidential hopefuls have been in town to attend the Sunshine Summit. A Republican gathering after the terrorist in Paris carried out by ISIS quickly became the main topic for all of the candidates.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal could not wait to give their view on the attacks and how they were linked to immigration. All were quick to link what happened in Paris to what could in the United States.
Some not in Orlando challenged President Obama and his administration not proceed with plans to allow in Syrian refugees to enter the country even on humanitarian grounds. On the campaign trail in Texas and South Carolina, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were the most vocal leaders of the charge.
“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America: it is nothing less than lunacy,” Cruz told Fox News from the site of his campaign’s “rally for religious liberty” in Greenville.
Meanwhile, at a massive rally in Beaumont, Texas, Trump, who expressed support for taking in Syrian refugees in September but later reversed himself, called the administration’s plan to admit thousands of them “insane.”
“Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria,” said Trump, inflating the actual figure, which is 10,000. “We all have heart, and we all want people taken care of and all that, but some of them are going to have problems, big problems.”
According to POLITICI Gov.Christie rewrote his entire speech at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit in response to the attacks, beginning with his account of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when he lost contact with his wife Mary Pat for five hours as she evacuated her office at the World Trade Center in New York.
He said that the federal government’s failure to secure America’s borders had left the country vulnerable to terrorist infiltration. “On an afternoon like this afternoon we wouldn’t be worried about ISIS slipping across our borders to commit unspeakable acts of violence” if the government had addressed the issue, he said.
Noting that French President François Hollande had ordered the emergency closure of France’s borders in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attacks, Jindal suggested the United States should follow his lead. “It’s time for us here in America to secure our borders and keep us safe as well from these radical evil terrorists,” said the Louisiana governor.
Earlier at the summit, at a Friday evening post-speech press conference as the attacks were still unfolding, Carson said he opposed the admission of Syrian refugees into the country. “If the administration does proceed with its plan to admit the refugees, Carson said, Islamic State leaders would be stupid not to try to plant terrorists among them. “That would almost be malpractice, you know?”
In his speech at the summit, Paul targeted his Republican rival Marco Rubio as he addressed border security in light of the attacks.
“I think one of the lessons we should learn from the tragedy in Paris is that we have to be very careful, and very cautious — extraordinarily cautious — about who comes to visit, who immigrates here and who studies here,” he said.
Not all Republicans were ready to make political points in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The Republican opposition research group America Rising called off its rapid response to Hillary Clinton during Saturday night’s Democratic debate because of its proximity to the attacks.
Asked at the summit about the Obama administration’s policies and the attacks, Florida Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Republican Senate candidate, took a pass, saying, “It’s all in poor taste today to be laying blame.”
*Some quotes in this story came from POLITICO.