Freshman GOP: Obama ‘afraid’ to attack ISIS

A freshman House Republican is accusing President Obama of shirking his responsibility as commander in chief by choosing to arm fighters in the Middle East, instead of sending more robust American forces.

“This is a threat and it didn’t have to be this way and we have to deal with it in a very serious manner,” Tea Party Rep. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineNASA can facilitate the commercial space station race SpaceX all-civilian crew returns to Earth, successfully completing 3-day mission SpaceX all-civilian crew calls Tom Cruise from space MORE (R-Okla.) said at the Value Voters Summit on Saturday.

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“And you don’t deal with it by saying: ‘You know what, I’m the commander in chief but I don’t want to be the commander in chief, therefore I’m going to train and equip so-called moderate Syrian rebels that have allegiances with al Qaeda, because I’m afraid to be the commander in chief,” he added, referring to the Obama administration’s plan to train Syrian rebels to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“If this is a threat to our country, we eliminate it. If not, we don’t,” Bridenstine said. “I say this is a threat to our country and it needs to be dealt with.”

Obama has pledged not to put U.S. boots on the groups in Iraq or Syria, though American military trainers have been sent to train foreigners.

The administration has said that it is taking great lengths to ensure that the fighters are not linked to al Qaeda or Hezbollah, but critics have warned that the weapons are sure to fall into the hands of supporters of those groups.

Bridenstine — a freshman lawmaker and Navy veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — did not explicitly call for the U.S. to launch a full military campaign against ISIS, but opposed the notion of arming foreigners who could later turn their weapons against the U.S.

“When it comes to who I trust with American fire power, it is Americans,” he said. “It is people who like me swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, but when we train and equip folks that have extremely limited common interests and questionable loyalties we put ourselves in jeopardy.”

Obama’s decision, he said, was “based on politics, not based on what’s in our national security interest.”

Bridenstine is one of three congressmen who voted against House Speaker John Boehner's second term as speaker last year, opting for then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor.