"If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding," Donald Trump said in response to the Brussels terror attacks on Tuesday

By Tierney McAfee
Updated March 22, 2016 11:50 AM
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Credit: Natasha Moustache/WireImage; MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

U.S. presidential candidates took to social media and TV news programs to react to the terror attacks in Brussels that killed 31 people and injured 187 on Tuesday.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump weighed in soon after the news of the attacks broke. “Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was,” he tweeted Tuesday morning. “Not anymore, it is a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!”

Trump also commented on the attacks during a live phone interview with the Today show on Tuesday, telling hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer that if he were president, he’d respond by being “very, very tough on the borders” and if necessary, torturing suspects to gain information.

“Brussels is a total mess,” he said. “They’re just a city that used to be one of the finest and one of the most beautiful and one of the safest cities in the world, and now it’s a catastrophic, very dangerous city where the police have very little control.”

“I am in the camp where you have to get the information and you have to get it rapidly,” he continued. “Frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine. If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people.”

During another phone interview with Fox and Friends Trump added that he would respond to the attacks by “[closing] up our borders to people until we figure out what is going on.”

He also called for the monitoring of Muslims in the U.S., particularly at mosques, and said the U.S. needs to stop allowing Muslim refugees into the country.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton responded to Trump’s border comments during her own Today show interview, saying, “It’s unrealistic to say that we’re going to completely shut down our borders to everyone.”

The former secretary of state added that she would respond to the attacks by employing tougher security measures.

“We have been confronting the threat of terrorism for quite some time and with the latest terrible manifestation of it, we’ve got to tighten our security,” she said. “I’ve talked about a visa system and a passenger name record system.”

She also tweeted about the attacks Tuesday morning:

She also released this statement:

“Terrorists have once again struck at the heart of Europe, but their campaign of hate and fear will not succeed. The people of Brussels, of Europe, and of the world will not be intimidated by these vicious killers. Today Americans stand in solidarity with our European allies. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium. These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life, but they will never succeed. Today’s attacks will only strengthen our resolve to stand together as allies and defeat terrorism and radical jihadism around the world.”

Her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders has not yet commented, as of press time.

GOP hopeful Ted Cruz was quick to react to the attacks, vowing on Facebook to defeat “Radical Islam” if he’s elected president.

“Our hearts break for the men and women of Brussels this morning. Make no mistake – these terror attacks are no isolated incidents. They are just the latest in a string of coordinated attacks by radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated by those who are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam. Radical Islam is at war with us. For over seven years we have had a president who refuses to acknowledge this reality. And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it. That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president. We will name our enemy – radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it.”

GOP hopeful John Kasich tweeted the following statement:

The Ohio governor also discussed the attacks on MSNBC on Tuesday, telling Brian Williams that President Obama should cut short his trip to Cuba and return to the U.S. “I would hope what the president would do, and perhaps they are, is I think he ought to return home,” Kasich said. “He ought to work with the, you know, the heads of state around the world. They ought to assemble teams and they need to examine these vulnerabilities we have, because without effective human intelligence, without coordination and cooperation among all the civilized nations, we get these gaps and these gaps get exploited by these people who are intent on killing civilized people.”

Know Right Now: Brussels Still Under Highest Terror Alert

“We’ve got to act quickly against ISIS, both in the air and on the ground, with a coalition of not only people from the West, but our Arab friends in the Middle East,” Kasich added.

The explosions occurred in Brussels Zaventem Airport and the Maalbeek Metro Station. Two explosions were reported inside the airport’s departure terminal, with at least one of them being from a suicide bomber. A third explosion happened later at the metro station, which is located near the headquarters of the European Union. Both the airport and metro system have been shut down.

The attacks come days after anti-terror raids and the arrest of Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam on Friday. Brussels has raised its terror level from 3 to 4, the highest level, with authorities warning that a large group of terrorist remained at large.