Obama may have been touring Cuba at the time, but Ted Cruz's comments about Cruz's desire to have police "patrol and secure" Muslim neighborhoods didn't go unnoticed by the president. "I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America,” the Hill quotes Obama as saying during a press conference Wednesday in Argentina. “The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense.” NBC News reports Obama also said Cruz's proposal would lead to discrimination, which "is not only wrong and un-American, but counter-productive." That's because the US Muslim community is better integrated and not "ghettoized" or "isolated" like its European counterpart, which makes the US safer, Business Insider reports.
Obama also lobbed the "counter-productive" criticism at another of Cruz's plans: carpet-bombing Middle Eastern countries. “Not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for [ISIS] to recruit more," the Hill quotes the president as saying. Obama says that when listening to Cruz call for surveillance on Muslim communities or Donald Trump say the US needs to legalize torture, it's critical to remember that ISIS doesn't currently pose a threat to the daily lives of Americans. "It is very important for us to not respond with fear," Obama said, per the Hill. "We defeat [ISIS] in part by saying, 'You are not strong. You are weak.'"