Hillary Clinton in Iowa: U.S. ‘has to lead’ against ISIS

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Sunday said the U.S. must lead the fight against ISIS, a day after seeming to indicate otherwise.

Clinton, speaking at a Central Iowa Democratic Party barbecue on the campus of Iowa State University, went straight into the attacks on Paris and her response.

“The attacks in Paris, as I said last night at the debate, are a sobering reminder of the challenges and threats that we face,” Clinton said. “And the importance of American leadership. This is a world-wide fight. As I said, I know America has to lead it but we cannot and should not do it alone.”

In Saturday’s debate with Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, Clinton seemed to suggest a less direct role. In the debate, she said the U.S. must provide “leadership resources,” as well as military force, diplomacy, developmental aid and intelligence to American allies in the Middle East.

“But it cannot be an American fight,” Clinton said Saturday. “And I think what the president has consistently said — which I agree with — is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS.

“But I don’t think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility.”

Clinton’s decision to clarify her views on ISIS came as Republicans pounced on her debate comments. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took aim.

Asked if he trusted fellow Republican candidates Donald Trump or Ben Carson to be commander in chief, Bush said, “I don’t know. The words I hear them speaking give me some concern. But that’s why we have campaigns.

“I’m more concerned about Hillary Clinton thinking the United States doesn’t have a leadership role in this.”

After her remarks at the barbecue, Clinton’s communications director said the former secretary of state was not backtracking.

“Her point is America is always going to to be the world leader in the fight,” Jennifer Palmieri said. “(But), it can never be America’s alone. Iraq has to be, this needs to be their fight. You’re not going to secure the country unless Iraq owns that. It can’t all be on our shoulders. America is going to lead.”

Both Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., another Republican presidential hopeful, also criticized the Democratic candidates for refusing to say the U.S. was at war with “radical Islam.” Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley had been careful to say the U.S. was not at war with all of Islam, but with jihadists and radicals who happen to be Muslim.

“A caliphate the size of Indiana garners strength each every day if it’s not taken out,” Bush said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We have to be in this fight. There is no other option. And this threat can be contained, but more importantly it will never die unless it’s destroyed. And the policy of containment isn’t going to work.”

Bush said the U.S. should declare war on ISIS, enforce a no-fly zone over Syria and put American troops on the ground to fight, but he did not say how many U.S. soldiers should deploy.

“And it ought to be designed by our military without their hands tied,” he said. “We can’t do it alone. But we need to lead.”

Rubio, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” said NATO must mobilize to respond to the attack on one of its members.

“First, I would ask our allies to invoke Article 5,” he said. “This is clearly an act of war and an attack on one of our NATO allies. And we should invoke Article 5 of the NATO agreement, and bring everyone together to put together a coalition to confront this challenge.”

O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who had a strong debate performance Saturday, also spoke to Central Iowa Democrats. Malley delivered a standard stump speech, focusing more on Republicans than his primary opponents, until the end, when he outlined differences he has with Clinton and Sanders on immigration and on guns.

O’Malley said that he signed legislation in Maryland to allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses and qualify for in-state tuition while Clinton and Sanders failed to deliver immigration reform in the Senate.

On guns, O’Malley said he pushed for background checks and an assault weapons ban in Maryland, while Sanders voted to protect gun manufacturers and Clinton flip-flopped on gun control.

“It’s about following our principles,” he said.

Sanders, meanwhile, faced new questions about his claim that climate change is a bigger threat to the world than terrorism. It’s a claim he repeated in Saturday’s debate.

On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Sanders said both the CIA and the Department of Defense agree.

“It’s pretty obvious,” Sanders said. “If we’re going to see an increase in drought and flood … what that means is peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources.”