Donald Trump, who has repeatedly vowed to employ waterboarding to get information from terror suspects, is taking aim at his chief rival Sen. Ted Cruz for what the real estate mogul sees as his weakness on the issue.
“When we are dealing with these animals, we can’t be soft and weak like our politicians,” Trump said Monday at a town hall in New Hampshire, which will hold the nation’s first presidential primary on Tuesday.
“I can guarantee you this — those guys who are chopping off heads of Christians in the Middle East, and many others—when they hear we are arguing that waterboarding may be too severe and it’s not nice, they are laughing like hell to themselves and they just go further,” Trump said, according to The Hill.
As for Cruz, who was the top vote-getter in last week’s Iowa caucus, Trump said he should have been more direct and forceful when discussing waterboarding and interrogation techniques at the most recent GOP debate.
Cruz said at the Saturday debate, which was held in New Hampshire, that in his opinion waterboarding did not meet the definition of torture. Nevertheless, Cruz said he would not "bring it back in any sort of widespread use.”
“I think bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels,” Cruz said.
He noted that he had supported legislation limiting the use of waterboarding.
Cruz added, however, that keeping the United States safe would be his priority.
“When it comes to keeping this country safe, the commander in chief has inherent constitutional authority to keep this country safe," he said. "And so if it were necessary to prevent a city from, say, facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.”
Cruz said he would authorize investigators to “use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.”
Trump scoffed at what he said was Cruz’s timidity on the subject.
“He didn’t like the question, you could see,” Trump said of Cruz, according to The Hill.
“He was trying to be politically correct and he didn’t really want to get involved with the waterboarding…Ted was very queasy on whether or not he liked it.”
At the debate, Trump said he’d have no qualms about waterboarding.
“Not since medieval times have people seen what's going on, he said in reference to the beheadings practiced by ISIS.
“I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
On Sunday, Trump said that Sen. Marco Rubio probably was hurt by his poor performance at the debate, where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly attacked the Florida lawmaker for giving "scripted" responses.
"Last night's debate was very important for a lot of people including Rubio because he had good moment," Trump said in a CNN interview, "and I think he may have lost some of that momentum."
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