The 2016 presidential race is still more than two years away, but that hasn't stopped potential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Rick Perry and Rand Paul from voicing their views on how they would tackle the Islamic State, or the militant group formerly known as ISIS. The potential Republican and Democratic candidates are contrasting their foreign policy views on ISIS against actions taken by President Barack Obama, who has shied away from announcing a plan on how to stop the militants outside of Iraq.

ISIS published two horrific videos in recent weeks purportedly showing the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The extremists' immediate goal was to use the shocking images to intimidate the Obama administration into halting U.S. airstrikes on ISIS strongholds in Iraq. 

Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry  Rick Perry Texas Gov. Rick Perry Photo: Reuters

It’s a “very real possibility” that individuals with the extremist group ISIS may have crossed into the United States at the southern border, Perry told an audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington last month, reports CNN. Without a secure border, Perry said “individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be” taking advantage of the situation.

“I think it's a very real possibility that they may have already used that. We have no clear evidence of that,” he continued. “We need to have clear and compelling forces, both law and enforcement and otherwise, to send the message that the border is secure."

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky Rand Paul U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during the second day of the 5th annual Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Policy Conference in Washington, June 20, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing

“I am concerned also that I think we have to understand why ISIS was allowed to get so large and why they’ve been so successful,” Paul said on Sean Hannity’s radio show this week. “I think part of the reason they’ve gotten so large is that we have armed Islamic allies of theirs — Islamic rebels — in Syria to degrade Assad’s regime and Assad then couldn’t take care of ISIS.”

Paul denied that he is against military intervention against ISIS in Iraq or Syria. “In no way have I said that we shouldn’t do anything about ISIS,” he said, adding that if he were president he would hold a joint session of Congress to request approval for military action.

But it is countries in the region that should take the lead on eliminating ISIS, he says. “Right now, the two allies that have the same goal would be Iran and Syria, to wipe out ISIS. They also have the means and the ability and they also have the incentive to do so because Assad’s clinging for power and clinging for life there."

He said there is a role for America to play. "But I would rather see the president come to a joint session of Congress, asks for permission, and if he gets it, I still would like to see the ground troops and the battles being fought by those who live there. We can give both technological as well as air support. That could be the decisive factor in this,” Paul said.

Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio Marco Rubio U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is interviewed at the Reuters Health Summit 2014 in Washington April 1, 2014. Photo: Reuters

"If we do not continue to take decisive action against ISIS now, it will be not just Iraqis or Syrians who continue to suffer, it will likely be Americans, as a result of a terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland or on our personnel overseas," Rubio wrote for last month. "America was faced with the same choice President Clinton faced in the 1990s during the emergence of al Qaeda: take action now, or we will be forced to take action in the future."

Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin Ryan Paul June 2013 U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., so far has batted down calls to enter the race for GOP speaker of the House. Photo: Reuters

The American military must destroy the threat immediately, Ryan said regarding ISIS while speaking at the Rotary Club in Milwaukee this week.

“If we don’t do it here and now, it will come to get us. We know where they are. We know what territory they have, so while this is measurable, we should have and execute a campaign to defeat ISIS,” he continued. 

Republican Rick Santorum  Rick Santorum Wins Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. Photo: REUTERS

“The United States must not allow Radical Sunni forces like ISIS to seize control of Iraq. This would create a base camp from which to export terrorism, attack American citizens, destabilize our Arab allies, attack Israel, terrorize the Iraqi people, drive up the price of oil, and seriously harm our economy. Nor can we allow the Radical Shia leaders of Iran to exploit the situation and gain effective control over Iraq,” Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennylsvania, said in a statement. "I support the United States launching air strikes against ISIS forces and assisting the Iraqis with real-time intelligence on the movement of ISIS forces. We should also evacuate our Embassy and all American civilians in Iraq so we don't allow a hostage situation to develop. President Obama hasn't left us with good options, but one thing is clear: we must move rapidly to slow down the ISIS advance, change the dynamic on the ground, and buy time."

Vice President Joe Biden Joe Biden_May2014 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the UN-controlled buffer zone splitting Cyprus and its capital Nicosia on May 22, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Andreas Manolis

"We take care of those who are grieving, and when that's finished, they should know, we will follow them [ISIS] to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice," Biden said in a speech in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Democrat Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton3 Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Syria during an event at the White House in Washington on Sept. 9, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton, who served as Obama's secretary of state, said in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg last month.

Democrat Howard Dean Howard Dean Former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean speaks during the "American Technophile: "How Technology is changing Politics, Governance & Healthcare" panel at the Fortune Tech Brainstorm 2009 in Pasadena, California July 22, 2009 Photo: Reuters

"I think he [Obama] has to continue to be aggressive from the air," Dean, former Democratic governor of Vermont, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last month. "These guys are not going away. I think we'll win this effort." The brutality of ISIS is "about as bad as it gets," Dean said, calling the group "cultists who murder people for thrill." He said the militants needed to be "eradicated." 

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner  Mark Warner U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (R) during a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, Oct. 25, 2012. Photo: Reuters

“I urge the administration to come to Congress with a clear strategy and political and military options for eliminating the ISIS threat,” Warner, of Virginia, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. “should not take any military options off the table, because stopping ISIS is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and our European allies,” Warner, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, went on to say.

Instead, America must "see the Iraqis, other partners across the region, and our European allies in NATO stand up and stand together” against the group.