Front-runner Donald Trump boycotted debate claiming he was unfairly treated by Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly
Republican presidential candidates vowed to wage a more intensive war on Daesh and tackle the crisis in Syria militarily Thursday in the last debate before the Iowa caucus to be held on Monday.
The debate in Des Moines, Iowa, hosted by Fox News and Google, was marked by Donald Trump’s no-show.
The front-runner in the polls, Trump boycotted the debate claiming that he had been unfairly treated by Fox news anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
Speaking to CNN before the debate, Trump said that he did not attend because he “just didn’t think this was a fair process”. But he said that Fox News “could not have been nicer” when it tried to bring him back into the fold, and apologized to him. He did not specify who issued the apology.
The television network said in a statement that Trump spoke with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in three brief conversations on Thursday to discuss the possibility of him returning to the stage.
Fox said Trump demanded that the network give $5 million to charity for him to appear. “We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason,” Fox said.
The fight against Daesh terrorism and stability in the Middle East was again one of the hot topics of the debate.
Assuming the role of front-runner by default in the debate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz reiterated his stance of “carpet bombing” Daesh militants.
“You want to know what carpet bombing is? It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf War; 1,100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy. Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day,” he said.
He also added that the limitations on the rules of engagement should be lifted so that U.S. forces will not go into combat “with their arms tied behind their backs”.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio also agreed with Cruz saying that Daesh cannot be defeated “with a military that’s being diminished”.
“They’re not going to turn into stockbrokers overnight or open up a chain of carwashes. They need to be defeated militarily, and that will take overwhelming U.S. force,” he suggested.
He added that the U.S. has the smallest army since the end of the World War II and the smallest Navy in 100 years and the smallest Air Force of U.S. history.
The Florida senator also backed his comments that he would take on radicalism in the U.S. going as far as to shut down mosques, an idea that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul described as a “big mistake”.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush also vowed to destroy Daesh caliphate if elected.
“We need to arm Kurds directly, embed our troops with the Iraqi military, re-engage with the Sunni tribal leaders, have a no fly-zone in Syria and create safe zones to deal with the refugees but, more importantly, to train a Sunni-led force in Syria to take out ISIS [Daesh] with our support, ground and air,” he said.
Ohio Governor John Kasich also agreed that a ground-and-air war needed to be waged against Daesh but noted that the U.S. should leave the region after defeating the militant group.
“We shouldn’t be policemen of the world. But what we need to do is turn it over to the regional powers to be able to handle that,” he pointed out.