Graham slams Cruz and Trump on Syria strategy

Story highlights

  • "Ted Cruz doesn't have a clue on how to destroy ISIL," Sen. Lindsey Graham said
  • Graham also slammed Trump who has called for the U.S. to give Russia free rein to defeat ISIS in Syria

Washington (CNN)Sen. Lindsey Graham slammed fellow GOP presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump on Tuesday for opposing the deployment of U.S. ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS.

Graham, who did not make the cutoff to appear in either Fox Business debate Tuesday night, said Cruz "doesn't have a clue," and Trump "doesn't know what he's talking about" after the pair warned separately on Sunday against further U.S. intervention in Syria.
"Ted Cruz doesn't have a clue on how to destroy ISIL," Graham told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead," using another acronym for ISIS. "His plan is no different than (President Barack) Obama."
    Graham also dumped Cruz in the same pot as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican presidential contender known for his non-interventionist views on foreign policy.
    Cruz, who is also looking to corner the libertarian vote that Paul has largely attracted, has said when asked about U.S. action in Syria that the U.S. "shouldn't be moving armies about."
    Cruz: No U.S. boots on the ground against ISIS
    Cruz: No U.S. boots on the ground against ISIS

      JUST WATCHED

      Cruz: No U.S. boots on the ground against ISIS

    MUST WATCH

    Cruz: No U.S. boots on the ground against ISIS 01:41
    "There are some politicians who like to support boots on the ground in every conflict across the globe in an effort to lean forward and show how tough they are," Cruz said in October on CNN's "State of the Union." "I don't think this is a game of risk. I don't think it should be politicians moving armies about."
    Graham, by contrast, has staked his entire presidential campaign on his hawkish foreign policy views, arguing that the U.S. should deploy 20,000 troops to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS.
    "Sen. Cruz has been all over the board. He has no foreign policy vision," Graham said.
    Graham also slammed Trump, who has called for the U.S. to give Russia free rein to defeat ISIS in Syria, suggesting that Trump does not understand the U.S.'s interest in defeating ISIS.
    "The reason he can't give you specifics is he doesn't know what he's talking about," Graham said. "If you don't realize America has an interest in destroying ISIL in Syria then you don't understand."