Cruz defends proposal to carpet bomb ISIS

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas) doubled down on his proposal to "carpet bomb" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria during Thursday's Republican presidential debate, arguing it is a "military strategy."  

"It is not tough talk — it is a different fundamental military strategy from what we've seen from Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE," he said.

Cruz first suggested the idea during a speech on Dec. 5, where he said, "we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow int he dark, but we're going to find out."

Critics of Cruz, including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have said it would be unrealistic to carpet bomb ISIS, which is embedded among the civilian population, particularly in their strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.

“I think most rhetoric about carpet bombing, about making the sand glow, about bombing them to death and so on is frankly just unrealistic," Gates said last week on FOX Business Network.

"It’s not going to accomplish the military objective — it takes no account of civilian casualties. It’s a simplistic answer to what’s a complex and long term problem,” he said.

Cruz later clarified he would "carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of troops."

He then implied he would embed U.S. special forces to call in airstrikes, which suggests more precise targeting than carpet bombing.

Cruz on Thursday, however, argued that the strategy has been employed by the United States before, against Saddam Hussein's forces when they invaded Kuwait in 1990.

"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," he said.

"Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day," he added.