OTR Interviews

Lindsey Graham to Ted Cruz: We won't destroy ISIS by carpet-bombing them

Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham goes 'On the Record' on the deadly ISIS terror attacks that rocked Brussels


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 22, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The Brussels terror attack leaving the world on edge and, of course, we all knew this was coming. We didn't know where and when and we don't know who is next. 

South Carolina senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Lindsey Graham goes On The Record. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I guess it's no surprise to you that this has happened, is it?

GRAHAM: No. What I have been saying for two years. The bottom line here is the goal is to destroy ISIL. If we don't destroy them, they are going to hit us here. If we don't come up with a ground component to go into Syria and Iraq to take back the land they hold, we are going to get attacked here. They are planning attacks against our country as I speak. So you suggested if you see something, say something. Here is what I am going to tell you. I see 40,000 Jihadists in Iraq and Syria that are intent on attacking the United States and destroying our way of life. And we don't have a strategy to deal with that. If we don't come up with a ground component, we're never going to beat these guys from the air.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. President Obama is not coming home to the United States. He is heavily criticized because he didn't go to Paris. And when Charlie Hebdo attacks happened in March with all the world leaders, should the president come home or should he continue his trip to Argentina?

GRAHAM: I could care less where he goes. If he doesn't change his strategy, nothing is going to change. He can go and sit in the Pentagon until January 2017. If we don't come up with a regional army to destroy this ISIL army, they are going to hit us here in America. The only way you beat an army is with another army. We don't have a game plan to destroy ISIL. He's trying to run out the clock and pass this on to the next president. With all due respect to Senator Cruz, you are not going to destroy ISIL by carpet bombing them. To Donald Trump, you are not going to destroy ISIL by shutting off a flow of refugees out of Syria to us and the world. The only way you are going to destroy ISIL is to get a ground component and army, go in on the ground and kill these guys before they attack us here. How many more attacks do we have to suffer before we understand we're not winning?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Senator, on the campaign trip today, the candidates were consumed with the horrific news of these attacks in Brussels.


TED CRUZ, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Brussels.

JOHN KASICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, of course, is a sad day for the entire civilized world.

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In my opinion, this is just the beginning. It will get worse and worse because we are lax and we are foolish. We are foolish.

CRUZ: This is a war with radical Islamic terrorism.

KASICH: I'm a little surprised that the president is going to a baseball game. If I had been president, I would have cut short my visit.

CRUZ: Their target is each and every one of us.


VAN SUSTEREN: And as the candidates react to the terrorism news out of Europe, polls are closing and just hours in both Utah and Arizona. Senator, you are supporting Senator Ted Cruz but I just heard you make the remark with all due respect to Senator Cruz carpet bombing isn't going to work or something to that effect. That surprises me that you criticize him that way.

GRAHAM: Well, I like Ted. I think he's a better alternative to Trump. He's a real Republican. And I think he understands the threat better than Trump. But did you hear from anybody a game plan to destroy ISIL? I know exactly where they are. I know exactly how many they are of them. I know what they are up to. So what I would like is for us, as Republicans, to come up with an alternative to Obama's strategy and that alternative is create a regional army, 90 percent from the region. 10 percent us, and go in to Syria and Iraq, and kill these guys before they attack us.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I might note that we haven't carpet bombed in decades and Senator Cruz still hasn't walked that one back. But anyway, Senator, thank you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.