2020 Contenders Condemn Trump-Ordered Airstrike That Killed Iranian General

January 3, 2020 Updated: January 3, 2020

Democratic presidential contenders criticized the airstrike that President Donald Trump ordered overnight, killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said that Soleimani “deserved to be brought to justice” for killing American troops and innocent people but “none of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region.”

“President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) added, “Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.”

“Donald Trump ripped up an Iran nuclear deal that was working. He’s repeatedly escalated tensions. Now he’s assassinated a senior foreign military official. He’s been marching toward war with Iran since his first days in office—but the American people won’t stand for it,” she said.

“Soleimani was a terrorist responsible for killing Americans. But this wasn’t authorized by Congress and is an escalation that risks a wider war with Iran. Mr. Trump risks making a bad situation worse with reckless action,” billionaire Tom Steyer said in a statement.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Soleimani “was a murderer with the blood of Americans on his hands” but said Trump’s “track record and his history of making reckless and impulsive decisions” made the situation deeply concerning.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called Soleimani “a menace to the world and to peace-loving people everywhere.”

“At the same time, a difficult situation is becoming more dangerous because of a lack of leadership,” he said. “Without the President explaining the plan or path forward, we risk making the situation even more perilous and our country and the world less safe.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang didn’t mention Soleimani being killed but said that he is running on a pledge to end so-called forever wars.

“This decision highlights the need to get Donald Trump out of office. We need better decision making in the White House that does not escalate violence but instead invests in diplomacy to achieve our national interests,” he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also didn’t mention Soleimani’s killing. In a statement, he said, “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars. Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) claimed that “We have a president who has no strategic plan when it comes to Iran and has only made that region less stable and less safe.” He denounced Trump’s decisions during an appearance on MSNBC late Thursday.

Former Rep. John Delaney (R-Md.) said in a statement: “While Soleimani was directly responsible for the deaths of countless lives, including many Americans, and was a significant danger to our troops and a destabilizing force in the region and deserved to be brought to justice for his actions against our troops, the Administration’s failure to brief Congressional leadership on this action is troubling and raises the risk of reckless actions that could lead to a dangerous escalation.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said in a video statement that the bombing “was an act of war, with no authorization of declaration of war from Congress.” She accused the president of placing the United States “in a state of war with Iran and has seriously escalated this tit for tat conflict, pushing us deeper into an endless quagmire.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Soleimani “was responsible for directing Iran’s destabilizing actions in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East, including attacks against U.S. forces.””But the timing, manner, and potential consequences of the Administration’s actions raise serious questions and concerns about an escalating conflict.”

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in a statement that said Soleimani “was a threat” to Americans “but there are serious questions about how this decision was made and whether we are prepared for the consequences.”

He said the next steps should include consulting Congress, American allies, and stakeholders in the Middle East.

Author Marianne Williamson said in a statement: “This isn’t about whether Soleimani was a ‘good man’ any more than it was about whether Saddam was a good man. It’s about smart versus stupid use of military power. Invading Iraq was criminally irresponsible & tweets like this about Iran are from the same crowd, the same insanity.” She said she was praying “for peace.”

Republicans largely praised Trump for killing Soleimani, who both parties agreed was responsible for hundreds of American deaths and thousands of others.

“For more than a decade he masterminded Iran’s malevolent and destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Senate floor speech on Friday afternoon.

Soleimani’s actions led to the rise of the ISIS terrorist group, he added.

“For too long this evil man operated without restraint and countless innocents suffered for it,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement on Twitter: “Facing repeated #IRGC attacks the U.S. & @potus exercised admirable restraint while setting clear red lines & the consequences for crossing them #Iran’s Quds Force chose the path of escalation.”

He added, “They are entirely to blame for bringing about the dangerous moment now before us.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber