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Paris attacks: how US presidential candidates are responding

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

So far, most US presidential candidates have been cautious in their responses to the Paris attacks — except for the arch-conservatives.

Though few details of the Paris attackers are known so far, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum were all quick to cite the attacks in arguing that the US should close its doors to refugees trying to escape war-torn Syria. There is too great a risk that terrorists will arrive with these refugees, these candidates argued. They all also repeated past campaign rhetoric arguing for a stronger military effort to defeat ISIS — though most offered few specifics.

Meanwhile, the other major candidates — all the Democrats, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and even Donald Trump — have said little so far beyond expressing sympathy for the French people. They're likely waiting until more information comes in — but here's what's been said so far.

Ted Cruz: Syrian Muslim refugees should not be allowed into the US

In an appearance on Fox News Saturday morning, Ted Cruz predicted, "This will be coming to America. ISIS plans to bring these acts of terror to America." However, he did not call for fighting ISIS with American ground troops. Instead, he repeated his past support for arming the Kurds. "In a Cruz administration we would be using overwhelming airpower and the Kurds as our boots on the ground," he said.

On refugees, Cruz laid out a religious test — he said the US should only accept Christian refugees.

"President Obama and Hillary Clinton's idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America is nothing less than lunacy," he said. "It makes no sense whatsoever for us to be bringing in refugees who our intelligence cannot determine if they are terrorists here to kill us or not. Those who are fleeing persecution should be resettled in the Middle East and majority Muslim countries. Now, on the other hand, Christians who are being targeted for genocide or persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them."

Mike Huckabee wants the borders closed and no Syrian refugees admitted

Huckabee released a statement calling to "close our borders" and for "an immediate moratorium on admission to those persons from countries where there is strong presence of ISIS or Al-Qaeda."

"During the debate last week, I stated that we should not admit those claiming to be Syrian refugees and was condemned by the left for that position. I was right and the events in Paris affirm that," Huckabee's statement reads.

He also called to "build a coalition that will include NATO, Russia, and nations of the Middle East to aggressively destroy ISIS," and said that "nations who refuse to participate will be sanctioned and isolated." Huckabee even called for canceling the nuclear deal with Iran, saying that "radical Islamists, whether Sunni or Shia, are a clear and present danger to civilization."

Rick Santorum: Don't admit refugees, major offensive against ISIS

At a campaign appearance today, Santorum said he "would not accept" Syrian refugees and that accepting them would even bolster ISIS, according to Time's Zeke Miller. He also said he would launch "a major American offensive against ISIS right now" and criticized Obama's current effort as "a public relations war."

Ben Carson: "Probably" put US boots on the ground against ISIS, don't admit refugees

Carson discussed the attacks briefly at a Friday press appearance. While he criticized President Obama for withdrawing troops from Iraq, his response on what specifically he'd do against ISIS was rather vague. "I would be working with our allies, using every resource known to man: in terms of economic resources, in terms of covert resources, military resources, things-that-they-don’t-know-about resources, not to contain them, but to eliminate them, before they eliminate us." He added that US "boots on the ground would probably be important."

On refugees, Carson said at the press conference, "I would not allow them to come in the first place," and added, "Of course [jihadists] are going to infiltrate them." He went on: "To bring them here when we have tens of millions of our own people who are suffering economically, doesn't make any sense."

Jeb Bush: Fight ISIS with allies

Very shortly after news of the attacks first broke, Jeb Bush appeared on Hugh Hewitt's talk radio show. "This is an organized effort to destroy Western civilization," he said there. He called ISIS the "wellspring" of terrorist activity and called for stronger action alongside "our European allies" to "take out ISIS." He repeatedly emphasized the importance of coalition building with allies, and argued that Obama's withdrawal from Iraq "allowed the energy to exist to create ISIS."

On refugees, Bush reiterated to Hewitt, "We’re prepared to take a tiny fraction of the people that are coming, and they should be thoroughly screened, for sure." (Last month, Bush criticized Trump's desire to send refugees back, calling it "not the proper policy for the United States" and "certainly not an exhibition of leadership.")

Donald Trump hasn't said much yet, but he's been all over the place on these issues

Other than one tweet praying for the victims, Trump's only response to the attacks as of midday Saturday has been the above tweet attacking Obama. (You may have seen another tweet in which Trump says it's "interesting" that "the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world" spreading on social media, but that was actually from January and was about the Charlie Hebdo attacks.)

In general, though, Trump has been all over the place on these issues. In September, he mused that perhaps the US should just let Putin fight ISIS: "Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?" However, in a campaign appearance Thursday, Trump said he'd "bomb the shit out of them [ISIS]" — and that he'd specifically focus on oil-rich areas they control.

Meanwhile, on refugees, Trump surprised some in September by saying the US had to accept refugees to deal with an "unbelievable humanitarian problem." But weeks later he flip-flopped, proclaiming, "If I win, [refugees] are going back."

Marco Rubio hasn't said much yet

Rubio, who is known for his hawkish foreign policy views and is currently believed by many to be the favorite to win the GOP nomination, has not yet given much of a response. On Friday night, he tweeted, "We must increase our efforts at home and abroad to improve our defenses, destroy terrorist networks, and deprive them of the space from which to operate." Regarding refugees, Rubio said back in September that "we would be potentially open to the relocation of some of these individuals at some point in time to the United States."

Update: On Saturday afternoon, Rubio released the following video in which he said the attacks were "a wake-up call" that we're in "a clash of civilizations."

The Democrats haven't commented much yet, but will at tonight's debate

The Democratic presidential candidates have said little on the attacks so far, though they will surely have to respond in more detail at tonight's debate. Hillary Clinton said in a statement Friday, "We must stand side-by-side every step of the way with France and our allies around the world to wage and win the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism." Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley's statements emphasized that they stand with the people of France.

Watch: Syria's civil war, explained