As Republican candidates fought for the White House during a debate Saturday in New Hampshire, the type of real problems they would face as president played out across the world as North Korea released another missile launch for the second time this year. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was asked whether he would order a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, but he said he couldn't answer without more intel.
"I haven't gotten the intelligence briefing tonight on North Korea, because I am here in New Hampshire," Cruz said. Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said North Korea needed a firm hand. He promised he would not negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "All these people understand is toughness and strength," he said.
Business mogul Donald Trump put the responsibility on China. "I would get on with China. Let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea," he said.
After winning Iowa's Republican caucuses Monday night, Cruz has had a tough week. He was slapped around by Trump, who took second in Iowa, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who recently dropped out of the 2016 race, and actor Sean Penn.
Graham said this week that on foreign policy, the Texas senator is "just as wrong as Obama, if not worse," Graham told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Graham also accused Cruz of being an "opportunist" to his core -- one who "gets ahead at our expense" and will "run down other Republicans" to advance his own ambitions.
Trump, meanwhile, blamed Cruz for the Affordable Care Act this week, because he supported putting Justice John Roberts on the bench. The Supreme Court sided with the president in a 6-3 decision in June that protected the health care law. “If it weren’t for Ted Cruz – he’s the one that got Justice Roberts onto the United States Supreme Court. He pushed him. He approved him,” Trump said.
Penn wasn't going to be left out of the scuffle. He attacked Cruz this week after the senator attacked his recent interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman. Penn responded: "Ted Cruz is a generically funny and dangerously adept thought-smith. Clearly, he watches too much television and neglected to read my article before criticizing. It's understood. He's busy trading genius and raising aspirations with Mr. Trump. Blame Canada."
Cruz has also exchanged heat words this week with Marco Rubio, who came in third in Iowa, over their shifting positions on immigration reform. Both have distanced themselves from their previous efforts to help undocumented immigrants obtain legal rights.
The State Department released a statement during the GOP debate Saturday condemning North Korea's action. "The United States strongly condemns today’s missile launch by the DPRK - a flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions related to the DPRK use of ballistic missile technology," it read. "This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well. We reaffirm our ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan. We will continue to work with our partners and members of the UN Security Council on significant measures to hold the DPRK to account."