Ted Cruz: AUMF Should Force Obama to Lay Out 'Specific Plan' to Defeat Islamic State

The senator from Texas said Wednesday that he hopes the request will shed light on the administration's strategy.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a confirmation hearing for former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 4 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (National Journal)

Just hours after the White House sent a draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State to Congress on Wednesday, Ted Cruz weighed in.

Speaking at the Center for Security Policy's "Defeat Jihad" Summit in Washington, the senator from Texas and all-but-announced presidential contender said he thinks an AUMF is a good thing.

"I hope it will force this administration to clearly articulate their objectives and their specific plan to accomplish that objective," he said. "That the process of going to Congress and seeking authorization leads to the natural question: authorization to do what? What do you intend to do and how do you intend to do it?"

That's been a standard line for the GOP since last August's controversial White House press conference, in which President Obama admitted his administration did not yet have a strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Syria. To authorize any kind of force, Republicans maintain, Congress needs to know more about a plan to defeat the terrorist organization.

In dealing with the Islamic State, Cruz said, the administration has not shown a "seriousness of purpose." And in what has become a favored talking point, he called out Obama's failure to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism," connecting it to success against the terrorist organization.

"When you have an administration that is unwilling to utter these words, you can't defeat it," he said.

Cruz also pounced on Obama for how he characterized a shooting last month at a Kosher deli in Paris. In an interview with Vox earlier this week, Obama said the shooters were "vicious zealots" who "randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris." The "random" line has become a point of attack from politicians and others who say the president is not accurately describing the anti-Semitic terrorists who targeted the victims—all Jews—specifically for their faith.

"No sentient being believes what occurred there was random," Cruz said. "They were not shooting people at random. They were shooting Jews because of their Jewish faith. We have a prez who not only refuses to acknowledge that, but affirmatively speaks the contrary."

Cruz also weighed in on the controversy Obama stirred up at the National Prayer Breakfast last week, when the president brought up the Crusades as proof that Christianity—not just Islam—has been invoked to justify violence.

"The last I checked, the Crusades began in the 11th century. I don't think it's too much to ask for the president to stay in the current millennium," Cruz said. "If there were Christians torturing and murdering those who disagreed with their faith in order to impose their faith on others, I and the men and women gathered here would not hesitate an instant to speak out against that perversion of faith."