Trump, Jindal, Cruz and Santorum address rightwing event

‘Dark and dangerous times’: GOP 2016 hopefuls focus on Islam at Iowa summit.

“We are bunch of babies,” Donald Trump warned a church full of conservative activists in Iowa on Saturday, as Republican presidential hopefuls stepped up their deployment of fear over national security as the weapon of choice to differentiate themselves in a crowded campaign.

“We are led by stupid people and we can’t go on like this,” added Trump, whose focus, like that of Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, was the threat posed by Islam: both from jihadists living within America and in the shape of Iran and the Islamic State.

“Christians can’t come into this country but Muslims can,” said Trump. “What’s that all about? Something has got to be coming down from the top. People are flowing through [the southern border] like water. At what point is it going to be too late?”

Trump

 Santorum was also blunt about why he was addressing the small and mostly elderly crowd at the National Security Action Summit in Des Moines.

“You have an opportunity to play a huge rule in deciding who is our next commander-in-chief,” said the former Pennsylvania senator, who has not yet declared a second run for the White House. “You are leaders because you are Iowans … you are first out of the box. There are an enormous number of people who are going to be vying for your attention.”

But just in case the state’s early role in voting for the party’s presidential nominee wasn’t enough to hold the crowd’s attention, Santorum brought his fears about Iran’s nuclear programme vividly to life.

“An electromagnetic pulse over the state of Iowa could knock us back to the stone age,” he warned. “Worse, [at least] people in the stone age knew how to live in the stone age. We don’t.”

Asked by a concerned member of the audience how to tell the difference between peaceful Muslims and radical jihadists, Santorum answered: “If you look at Islamists, they all have the same ideology. By and large the only difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Isis is the methods they will take to impose their theology.”

Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, rejected accusations that a growing focus on Islamic extremism, particularly since an attempted attack in Garland, Texas this month, represented dangerous stereotyping of the religion as a whole.

“I came to speak about this in London this past January and when you say things like that you had better be ready,” he said. “The politically correct crowd are going to tell you you are anti-Muslim or racist or you have an outdated mindset and I’m telling you that’s ridiculous.

“We can’t beat this enemy unless we recognise this enemy for what is. “

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