DERRY – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio joined former and – he hopes – future GOP colleague Scott Brown today in calling Sen. Jeanne Shaheen “a silent shadow” for President Barack Obama’s “failed foreign policy.”
Rubio, who is considering running for President in 2016, announced several months ago that he supported Brown. He and his Reclaim America PAC made it official today.
“Scott’s 35 years of military service in the National Guard gives him unique perspective on the national security challenges America faces in the 21st century and knows what it takes to protect America,” Rubio said in his endorsement statement.
Rubio and Brown hosted several dozen Brown supporters – many, if not most, of them veterans — as well as a few who do not support Brown, at The Hallagan Tavern in Derry this afternoon. The event was held a few hours after Shaheen also was in Derry, charging that Brown is not genuine in his support of women’s reproductive rights and health issues.
Shaheen, at a debate with Brown in North Conway on Monday, said it is unfortunate that partisan bickering seems to no longer stop at the “water’s edge.”
Recently, she accused Brown of “trying to score political points” through his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy decisions.
“We should be unified behind our men and women in uniform right now as we target these terrorists and bring them to justice, not launching self-serving political attacks that distort the facts for partisan gain,” she said at the time.
Rubio, who serves with Shaheen on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Shaheen and other Obama supporters “believe that problems around the world are largely created by American engagement.”
But, he said, Tthe opposite is true” and “without American engagement, there is no other nation and no other organization that can play the role America plays.”
In the absence of American leadership, Rubio said, there is “chaos – that’s what you’re seeing now as a direct result of this President’s foreign policy – a foreign policy that is made possible by his supporters in Congress. They look the other way and say nothing while he makes extraordinary mistakes which we are now paying the price for.”
He blamed Obama – supported by Shaheen — for the “complete withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Iraq, “creating a vacuum that has now been filled by the most radical terrorists we have seen in a very long time.”
Rubio said he wants Brown to return to the Senate to be “part of a core of leadership that is going to reinvigorate American foreign policy.”
And he said, “Your current United States senator, if she is reelected – God forbid – the first vote she will take will be to reelect Harry Reid as the Majority Leader. Someone who uses the United States Senate as a platform to run interference for the failed foreign policy of this President.”
Brown said he is “not advocating” sending ground troops to Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS, but “all options need to be on the table” and the United States should not telegraph its intentions to an enemy.
Brown said Iraq War veterans “feel betrayed, they feel frustrated as to why and how did we get to this point, where all of those gains we left on the battlefield – and body parts, life and limb, our friends and family members – where did it go wrong?”
Rubio said Obama “bragged about the fact that we were leaving Iraq” without leaving a residual force. Now, he said, the President “will tell us what he won’t do, but he won’t say what he will do. What he should say is, ‘We are going to defeat ISIL no matter what it takes. We would hope that it would happen with local forces but if local forces don’t work out, we’ve got to have other options on the table.’
“The commander in chief should not be out there at the outset saying what we wont’ be doing,” Rubio said. He said military experts say that a ground force such as ISIL cannot be defeated through airstrikes alone.
He noted that ISIS “is on the verge of overtaking” a major Kurdish city “placing them on the border with Turkey.” He suggested that “some level of special forces” should become involved “to help” local forces.
Rubio said the United States should have “engaged early on” in Syria, but now it has become “a magnet for foreign Jihadists from everywhere.”
Overall, he said, Obama is primarily concerned with “domestic political considerations.”
Arnie Alpert of the American Friends Services Committee asked Rubio and Brown how the government should address “corporate cronyism,” in which military “experts” calling for escalation are involved with military defense companies that would benefit financially.
Rubio said, “I’m not motivated to support a strong national defense on the basis of helping any company or corporation, but I do believe the United States must remain the most powerful, most effective fighting force on the planet. We should never be in a fair fight, ever.”
Brown called for a continual “top to bottom review of every federal and military program to make sure it’s modern, it’s working and we’re getting a good value for our dollar.”
Rubio and Brown said Obama was mistaken to negotiate with Iran.
“Iran is playing a game with us,” Rubio said. “Of all the mistakes the President has made, this is the one that will have the greatest implications long-term.”