"It's outrageous that the president of the United States is not in the situation room right now, planning to destroy ISIS," says Rudy Giuliani

By Tierney McAfee
Updated March 23, 2016 03:05 PM
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Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Obama is under fire for attending a baseball game in Havana, Cuba, in the wake of the terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday that left 34 people dead and hundreds injured – including at least nine Americans.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized the president on Tuesday for not cutting short his Cuba trip.

“It’s outrageous that the president of the United States is not in the situation room right now, planning to destroy ISIS,” Giuliani told Fox News of Obama, who attended the game on Tuesday with his family and Cuban President Raél Castro.

“That would be like Franklin Roosevelt remaining at Warm Springs when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor,” Giuliani said, adding that it makes no difference that Brussels is not on American soil. “This is an attack on one of our allies. We belong to NATO. He’s sitting with a dictator, watching a baseball game, while innocent people are being killed in a war.”

GOP hopeful Ted Cruz also slammed the president for “going to baseball games with the Castros” following the attacks.

“While our friends and allies are attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros and standing at a press conference with Raul Castro as a prop, while Castro denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba,” Cruz told reporters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump chimed in on Twitter:

GOP hopeful John Kasich also called on Obama to return home from Cuba early to respond to the attacks, saying, “What I hope he will say [is that] he’s leaving Cuba and heading back to the White House, he’s gonna begin to organize meetings with the leaders around the world and at the same time get himself in the position of where we can send teams of people immediately to Europe to begin to dig in terms of what we need to do to address the vulnerabilities we have.”

And veteran NBC newsman Tom Brokaw questioned Obama’s decision to take in the ballgame in Cuba, saying on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, “The president stayed at the baseball game all day long where you would have thought he would have said, ‘Look, we’ve got more business that I have to deal with, I wish you well,’ get on the phone.”

“We’ve got to put together some kind of a bulletproof syndicate to deal with all this,” he added. “There’s a real urgency about it, and he has got to convey that, not just to the American people but to the world.”

Obama responded to the backlash during a game-time interview with ESPN on Tuesday, saying, “It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage.”

“You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives and as long as we don’t allow that to happen we’re going to be okay.”

Obama, who at the game stood with Castro during a moment of silence for Brussels, added that one of his “proudest moments as president” was when Boston residents banded together following the terrorist attack on the city’s marathon in 2013. He singled out Red Sox star David Ortiz for declaring that Boston would not be intimidated.

“When Ortiz went out and talked about Boston and how strong it was and that it was not going to be intimidated – that is the kind of resilience and the kind of strength that we have to continually show in the face of these terrorists.”

The president echoed those sentiments in a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, telling reporters, “Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions. And their primary power, in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle.”

Pointing again to Boston’s strength and spirit in the wake of the marathon attack, he added, “That is how we are going to defeat these terrorist groups. In part, because we’re going after them and taking strikes against them, and arresting them, and getting intelligence on them, and cooperating with other countries. But a lot of it is also going to be to say, you do not have power over us. We are strong. Our values are right. You offer nothing except death.”