Former New York Gov. George Pataki said the U.S. should focus on combating radical Islam, saying he governed through 9/11 and understands the consequences of underestimating Islamic radicals’ potential danger to America.
At the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Dinner, the Republican presidential candidate said the U.S should send troops to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State, citing the terrorist group’s growing number of training centers and equipment as evidence of its plans to attack the U.S.
“It is necessary to defend our freedom,” Pataki said. “Attack those over there before they attack us here, and we’ll be a much safer people.”
Along with sending troops to fight, Pataki said domestic efforts are necessary. If people in the United States are trying to recruit others to harm Americans, either in person or through social media, they should not be protected by the First Amendment, he said.
“That is not free speech. That is not protected by our constitution. That is shouting fire in a crowded theater,” Pataki said. “We have got to shut them down, arrest them and treat them as the criminals that they are.”
QUOTE: When asked about making reforms to the country’s justice system, Pataki said there should be longer sentences for people involved in violent crimes. But he also advocated for compassion. “Tough on crime, tough on violence, but compassionate to those that can get their lives turned around in an intelligent way.”
BEST MOMENT: Pataki received applause from the audience when he said he would defund Planned Parenthood and go further, saying, “We should pass a permanent law saying no taxpayer dollars are ever used to fund abortion.”
AUDIENCE REACTION: The audience clapped for Pataki several times, particularly when he was addressing fighting the Islamic State and defunding Planned Parenthood