The Paris attacks and several recent foreign-policy fumbles are leading conservatives in Iowa to abandon Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson for rival Ted Cruz.
"He’s a great guy, he’s fun to listen to, but I didn’t hear anything substantive," Alan Hilgerson, a physician in Des Moines, told Politico.
He said that national security was an "extremely high" priority for him as he pores over the candidates.
"I don’t know that I’d want him as my president," Hilgerson said.
Marilu Erdahl said that she was leaning more toward Cruz because of his strong positions on national security.
"He has experience, he’s shown what he can do," she told Politico at the Family Leader Forum in Des Moines. "With the state of affairs we’re in right now, I think it is very important. It’s vital.
"We need someone who knows the ropes, who’s not the establishment but who doesn’t need on-the-job training.
"I guess I’ve maybe made up my mind," she said.
Both Carson and Cruz were at the forum on Friday. It was organized by conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats.
"Carson, he's a wonderful guy, but we like Cruz better," Judy Kirby, a Des Moines voter attending the forum, told Politico. She said she was seriously worried about national security in light of recent attacks.
Cruz "seems more knowledgeable, he seems stronger," she said.
Even Cruz admitted that national security was exerting more influence on the crowded 2016 GOP field.
"On the Republican side, I think the Paris attacks infuse a greater seriousness to the search for who is prepared to be commander-in-chief, who has the experience, who has the judgment, who has the understanding of the very real and growing threats facing America," he said during an interview Friday at the forum.
"The overlay of the Paris attacks, even today, the horrific attack in Mali, makes clear that we need a president who’s prepared on day 1 to understand the nature of the threats facing America and to lead this country in standing up to these threats and defending our citizens from the growing menace of radical Islamic terrorism."
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