2020 Democratic Field 'Concerned' About Strike on Soleimani

Most candidates also condemned Soleimani, but Sanders, Yang, and Williamson did not

Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren / Getty Images
January 3, 2020

They may be campaigning against each other for the presidential nomination, but every 2020 Democrat agrees on one thing: they're "concerned" about President Donald Trump's Thursday drone strike on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Many of the candidates denounced the late head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force in harsh terms, but argued that the president's strike was "reckless" and could escalate tensions in the Middle East.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who also opposed the Osama Bin Laden raid, tweeted that Soleimani deserved his fate, but called the strike "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."

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren called Soleimani "a murderer" on Twitter, but wrote that "this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict." Unlike other frontrunners, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) did not acknowledge Soleimani's murderous career as the leader of a designated terror group. He instead directed his criticism at Trump.

"Trump's dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars," he said.

Most of the Democratic candidates followed Biden and Warren's path of condemning both the president and the late terror leader.

"Soleimani has American blood on his hands," New Jersey senator Cory Booker said on MSNBC, before adding that "we also have to look at the larger strategic situation in that area. We have a president who has had really a failure in his Iranian policy, who's had no larger strategic plan and has made that region less stable and less safe, not only for Americans but for other countries."

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted that Soleimani was "responsible" for "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."

Colorado senator Michael Bennet said in a press release that Soleimani "has the blood of Americans and our allies on his hands" and "there is no mourning his death," but "we should be concerned with the haphazard manner in which this occurred and the long-term consequences of this decision. We're in this dangerous place now because of President Trump's reckless policy and irresponsible provocation of Iran."

Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard said on Fox & Friends that Soleimani was "evil," but argued that the strike was an unconstitutional act of war. "It will lead us to an outcome that actually further undermines our national security and needlessly sends more of our troops into harm's way," she said.

Billionaire Tom Steyer tweeted "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."

Soleimani "was a murderer with the blood of Americans on his hands," tweeted former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, but "given [Trump's] track record and history of making reckless and impulsive decisions that undermine U.S. strategic objectives and weaken our allies ... there is every reason to be deeply concerned."

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick issued more measured statements, declining to directly condemn the strike. "The top priority of a Commander-in-Chief must be to protect Americans and our national security interests," Buttigieg wrote. "But there are serious questions about how this decision was made and whether we are prepared for the consequences."

"While Soleimani was directly responsible for the deaths of countless lives ... 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," wrote Delaney.

"Qassim Suleimani was a menace to the world and to peace-loving people everywhere," Patrick wrote. "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."

Spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang echoed Sanders in their refusal to condemn Soleimani in any fashion.

"War with Iran is the last thing we need and is not the will of the American people," tweeted Yang. "We should be acting to deescalate tensions and protect our people in the region." He argued that the decision to carry out the strike "highlights the need to get Donald Trump out of office."

Williamson delivered the sharpest criticism, declaring the killing of Soleimani "one of the most reckless irresponsible actions ever directed by a US President." Williamson even downplayed the terrorist leader's crimes in a follow-up tweet, writing "When [the U.S. government] says Solmeini [sic] was responsible for American deaths in Iraq, ask how many American deaths WE’RE responsible for."