(Washington, D.C.) — Americans are increasingly on edge when it comes to personal and national security. They see the Mideast on fire. They see growing terror on our streets. No wonder they are looking for a President who truly understands the nature and magnitude of the threats we are facing and has the courage, knowledge and experience to keep Americans and our allies safe.
Last week — in the wake of the Paris attacks — only underscored the urgency. Minutes before a young Muslim wife and mother helped her husband unleash a terror rampage in San Bernardino on Wednesday, she pledged her loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State. She and her husband were later shot and killed by police after an intense manhunt. On Saturday, ISIS leaders publicly announced that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, were “soldiers” of the Islamic State and responsible for the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11/01, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others.
The Washington Post reported that 2015 has emerged as “the deadliest for Islamist attacks in the United States since 2001” with a total 19 deaths, including the four Marines and Navy sailor murdered by a jihadist in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July.
That’s why I found last week’s conference organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition as so important. All of the remaining 14 GOP presidential candidates addressed the group at the Ronald Reagan building here in Washington, D.C. Regardless of their current standing in the polls, each candidate was given 30 minutes (a 20 minute speech and about 10 minutes of Q&A) to explain their views on U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, the threats emanating from the Middle East, and U.S.-Israeli relations.
While I had a previous commitment and was not able to attend, I watched online and found it especially helpful to observe — back-to-back — the presentations made by “The Final Four,” the four candidates Evangelical Christians, especially in Iowa, are most closely and carefully watching to see if God is raising up one of them to be the next President of the United States. Why? Because it gave me a chance to compare their principles, their policies and their experience, as well as their personal style and tone on some of the most important issues in the race.
Who are “The Final Four,” in my view? Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, the two brilliant, up-and-coming, and very compelling young Cuban conservatives; and Governor Huckabee of Arkansas and former Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania, the two deeply principled, tried and tested, and very experienced previous Iowa Caucus winners.
Each made a compelling presentation, and yet each was so markedly different in tone and approach.
What stood out to me was the fact that both Rubio and Santorum spoke about the threat of “Apocalyptic Islam,” not just Radical Islam. Both used that specific term. Both were quite fluent in explaining what they meant by the term, the threat of these genocidal forms of eschatology, and why it’s important for the next President to understand this treat and be prepared to neutralize it. This was significant.
Neither Cruz nor Huckabee discussed Apocalyptic Islam with the RJC, though both made excellent presentations. Cruz hit the issue of Radical Islam quite hard. Huckabee spent much more time than the others talking about his love for Israel and why he has been traveling there and leading tours of Israel for 42 years. Hopefully both Cruz and Huckabee will discuss the issue of Apocalyptic Islam in detail in the future, though this was an ideal venue to have done so.
I encourage you to watch each of the four presentations, share them on social media, and discuss them with family and friends.
- Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Marco Rubio.
- Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Rick Santorum.
- Watch the speech and Q&A by Governor Mike Huckabee.
- Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Ted Cruz.
In several recent columns, I have noted that as America continues hurtling down a dangerous path toward implosion, as darkness falls in the Middle East and North Africa, as the forces of evil advance and the forces of freedom retreat, anyone who cares about the American people and the people of the epicenter needs to pay very close attention to the American presidential race. Specifically, I made the case that:
- We need a President who understands that Western leaders ignore the threat of Apocalyptic Islam at their peril.
- We need a Commander-in-Chief who truly understands the magnitude of the threats posed by Radical and Apocalyptic Islam.
- We need a President who has serious ideas about how to neutralize such threats, and has solid national experience that can assure us that he or she is really ready to confront this evil.
- We need a President who sees Israel as a faithful ally — not an adversary — in this showdown with the jihadists.
- We need a President who rejects the insane Iran nuclear deal, and the notion of allowing Russia and Iran to run wild in Syria.
- Commander-in-Chief is not an entry level position.
- There is no time for on-the-job training in the White House for a new President who has little or no experience thinking about foreign policy and national security issues.
- The next President must come in ready for war — because that’s what we’re in, and the stakes are simply too high to go with an untested outsider or newcomer.
Clearly, Cruz and Rubio have the most momentum, money, and higher poll numbers at the moment. Some analysts believe the GOP nomination contest could come down to a battle between Cruz and Rubio to be the conservative standard bearer in a fight against Donald Trump. That very well may be — and that would be a very spirited and fascinating contest. Indeed, it already is.
That said, Evangelicals should not rule out a possible late surge by either Huckabee or Santorum. Why? Because Iowans have a history of breaking late.
The latest poll indicates only 19% of Iowa likely GOP caucus voters have made up their mind; 81% are still shopping around. They get to meet the candidates and ask them questions face to face. They are weighing each contenders pros and cons. They are taking their job of winnowing the field very seriously, as they always have. Remember: Huckabee won Iowa in 2008, while Santorum won Iowa in 2012. Indeed, in the 2012 cycle, Santorum was at the bottom of the polls in Iowa until three days before the caucuses and then was able to persuade Iowans to break for him at the last moment. This gave him a come-from-behind victory in Iowa, which he dramatically parlayed into primary victories 10 additional states, finishing second in the nomination battle to Romney. Could this happen again with either Huckabee or Santorum? It could. Iowa Evangelicals really like and trust these two. And it’s important to note that Evangelical Christians make up about 57% of the Iowa GOP caucus voters.
People have asked me if I have settled on one candidate yet. I have not. I’ve met them all. I see plusses and minuses in each.I’m not looking for a perfect, flawless leader. And I’m continuing to pray for wisdom, discernment and clarity. Hope you are, too.
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