Presidential candidates react to Belgium terror attacks

People react outside Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions at the airport and at a subway station killed at least 31 people and injured more than 100. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Candidates vying for the presidency responded swiftly to the Tuesday terrorist attacks in Belgium that left more than two dozen victims dead in the Brussels airport and subway system.

As details continue to develop, 2016 hopefuls weighed in on the unfolding tragedy and implications for America’s national security.

Republican reaction

Republican front runner Donald Trump pondered the once “beautiful and safe” city of Brussels, urging the United States to be “vigilant and smart.”

Trump told the “Today Show” via phone that law enforcement “should be able to do whatever they have to do” to get information on further threats. The billionaire said, “Frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine.”

Trump cited his past tough talk on immigration and national security as a major reason that he now leads the 2016 polls.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted a statement, calling the Belgium attacks “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.”

The Texas senator, who trails Trump in the polls, used the platform to criticize President Obama for refusing to use the term “radical Islam” and make a campaign promise of his own, saying Obama’s strategy “ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president.”

Third-place Republican, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, stuck to his moderate tone, avoiding the phrase “radical Islam,” instead calling the terrorists “actors of evil.”

The governor pledged to “redouble our efforts with our allies to identify, root out and destroy the perpetrators of such acts of evil.”

Democratic reaction

Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton phoned in to NBC, telling anchors that the U.S. must “tighten our security,” but asserted that “it’s unrealistic to say we’re going to completely shut down our borders to everyone.”

The former Secretary of State cited difficulties American authorities have encountered with controlling security threats flowing to and from certain European countries, which have more lax security standards.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued this statement on the Belgium attacks.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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