DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Nearly a dozen Republican prospects for the 2016 presidential race lined up to appeal to party members in the early voting state of Iowa, agreeing to get tough with America's enemies but differing on how to do it.
Most who spoke at a state party dinner Saturday called for a more confrontational stance toward Iran, one of four countries on the U.S. list of nations accused of repeatedly supporting global terrorism. Former Sen. Rick Santorum's answer was to "load up our bombers and bomb them back to the seventh century."
Earlier in the day, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joked about the confused statements he made in recent days about whether he would have ordered the attack in Iraq in 2003. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the Republican gathering that it was a "valid question" to ask presidential candidates whether they would have invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein.
"We have to question: Is Iraq more stable or less stable since Hussein is gone?" asked Paul, who promotes some of the hands-off foreign policy of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tried to reject any assertion that the current problems in Iraq were the result of Bush's brother, former President George W. Bush.
"The person I blame is Barack Obama," said Graham, who criticized Obama for keeping a campaign promise to withdraw combat troops from Iraq. Of George W. Bush, Graham said, "He made the best decision he could."
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as did others, accused Obama of not taking the threat of Islamic State group militants seriously. Perry pointed to claims by the militant group, disputed by terrorism experts, that it was behind the assault on a Texas cartoon contest that featured images of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Republican presidential prospects were united in criticizing Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, linking her to Obama and mocking her for not fielding more questions during her campaign events.
Former business executive Carly Fiorina said the former first lady must not be president because "she is not trustworthy, she lacks a track record of leadership and her policies will crush the potential of this nation."
Others who spoke at the event were former surgeon Ben Carson, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki, businessman Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Having recently visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Walker called the Obama administration's foreign policy to "draw a red line in the sand and allow people to cross it." Instead, he suggested that the United States "take the fight to them."