Soon after the European city of Brussels was rocked by several explosions on Tuesday, the world reacted with sympathy while emergency personnel and Belgian officials on the ground raced into action. As the chaos caused by the alleged attacks subsided, however, the global news media began to speculate as to whether or not the explosions were some form of retaliation for the recent capture of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam — especially after ISIS-affiliated social media accounts began applauding the violence. Mourning quickly gave way to politicized outrage, though, and two of the persons quickest to pull the triggers were Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
The current GOP front-runner, Trump was the first to respond to the Brussels bombings during a telephone interview on Fox & Friends, as pointed out by Mediaite. He touted his previous comments on Islam, terrorism and immigration, saying that he’d “been talking about this for a long time” and opining that “Brussels was a beautiful city, a beautiful place with zero crime, and now it’s a disaster city.”
— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) March 22, 2016
The New York real estate mogul repeated this sentiment in a tweet, recalling “how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was” before Tuesday’s attacks and the current climate in Europe that led to them.
Of course, that wasn’t all the Donald had to say on the matter. With an additional telephone interview scheduled for Fox Business and Good Morning America later that morning, Trump had ample time and space to break out his preferred talking points for the day. He was especially critical of President Obama’s continued support of bringing in more Syrian and other refugees into the country, and reemphasized his proposed Muslim immigration ban while on Fox Business.
“We’re having problems with the Muslims, and we’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country, we are seeing it, whether it’s California where they killed the 14 people, the two, a young married couple, I guess she possibly radicalized him, nobody knows, she came here on a fiancé visa.”
Trump took the opportunity to then criticize the United States’ current lackluster border policies, saying that “we have to close our borders, make them so strong.”
By the time Trump had made his way to co-host George Stephanopoulos over at Good Morning America, he was beginning to sound like a broken record. He again lamented the fact that the U.S. was “taking people [in who] we have no idea where they are coming from,” and that “they could be ISIS, you don’t know.” However, as Rolling Stone aptly points out, the Republican candidate almost immediately undermined his own complaints about weak immigration laws when he brought up Abdeslam, the Belgian citizen arrested for allegedly participating in the Paris attacks:
“One of the most disturbing things is the man that was caught, yesterday — and this is retaliation for that — the man that was caught yesterday was living right where he grew up, he was living in the neighborhood, everyone knew he was there and they never turned him in.”
That is to say, immigration laws — proper, poor or otherwise — didn’t matter in Abdeslam’s case because he was a Belgian citizen and not an immigrant to the Brussels area.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 22, 2016
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz made his one and only media appearance Tuesday morning to respond to the Brussels attacks. Standing before journalists at a press conference in Washington, D.C., the junior senator from Texas decried President Obama’s current trip to Cuba and demanded his return. According to ABC News, Cruz argued that Obama has only two choices in the face of the terrorism in Brussels: return to “America [to keep] this country safe” or “[plan] to travel to Brussels” to show solidarity.
His anti-Cuban sentiments continued at length:
“While our friend and allies were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros and standing at a press conference with Raul Castro as a prop while Castro denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba.”
As of this writing, neither President Obama himself nor the White House have officially responded to Cruz’s criticism.