By Peter Sullivan - 01/16/16 01:47 PM EST
GOP candidates hammer Obama for prisoner swap
Republican presidential candidates Saturday raised varying levels of criticism of the prisoner exchange that led to the freeing of four Americans in Iran, while agreeing they were glad the Americans could come home.
Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Rubio holds massive lead in primary Rubio: Turkey attack 'directed' by ISIS Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (R-Fla.) had one of the harshest takes on the deal to release seven Iranians in exchange for the four Americans.
“We shouldn’t be involved in swaps,” Rubio told reporters after a campaign event in Iowa, according to Time.
“The fact of the matter is that this tells us everything we need to know about the Iranian regime — that they take people hostage in order to gain concessions,” Rubio continued. “And the fact that they can get away with it with this administration I think has created an incentive for more governments to do this around the world.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also criticized the Obama administration for entering into the swap.
"We shouldn’t have to swap prisoners, these folks were taken illegally in violation of international law and they should have been released without condition,” he told an Iowa television station, according to the Huffington Post.
Businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: 'I’m just flabbergasted’ by Clinton-Lynch meet Trump's new digital strategist quickly leaves campaign GOP megadonor compares Trump to Biblical figures MORE tied in the issue to the sanctions relief that Iran gets from the nuclear deal.
“So essentially they get 150 billion plus seven [people], and we get four [people],” Trump said.
“Meh, doesn’t sound too good. Doesn’t sound too good. But we have to see, because I just heard about this an hour ago, and I’m happy they’re coming back.”
Other candidates emphasized the return of the Americans over any negative aspects.
“Praise God!” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter. “Surely bad parts of Obama's latest deal, but prayers of thanksgiving that Pastor Saeed is coming home.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson praised the release of the prisoners, criticizing the nuclear deal but not the prisoner swap.
Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump's new digital strategist quickly leaves campaign Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office Trump hires Rand Paul's former digital director: report MORE (R-Ky.), who has a less confrontational foreign policy than the other Republican candidates, had the most support for the swap and criticized his Republican counterparts.
“The other people onstage want to react strongly against anything Obama does, without considering the consequences of what they are saying,” Paul told The Washington Post.
"I’m hopeful that this means Iran is going to begin behaving in a more civilized fashion,” Paul said.