Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event to the Sun City community in Bluffton, S.C., on Feb. 11, 2016.
Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP

GOP candidates renew calls to preserve Guantanamo

President Barack Obama’s call to shutter the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday reignited GOP rallying cries on the campaign trail to preserve the detention facility.

“This makes no sense to me. Number one, we’re not giving back an important naval base to an anti-American communist dictatorship,” Marco Rubio said of the facility in Cuba. “And number two, we’re not going to close Guantanamo. In fact, we shouldn’t be releasing the people that are there now. They are enemy combatants.”

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have blocked Obama’s efforts to close Guantanamo. Among the most contentious aspects of his proposal is the transfer of some detainees to U.S. soil.

“If it was such a good idea, I guess it would have been done seven years ago,” Ben Carson said in an interview on MSNBC. “Obviously it is not a great idea and I don’t support it and you know the assumption is all presidents coming after him will also think it’s a good idea. It’s, I think, ill-conceived.”

Bernie Sanders welcomed the president’s announcement and knocked Hillary Clinton in a statement.

“As I have said for years, the prison at Guantanamo must be closed as quickly as possible,” said Sanders. “Others, including my opponent, have not always agreed with me.”

At a recent campaign stop in South Carolina, a state that has been suggested as a possible location for some detainees to be transferred, Clinton said, “The president has to decide what he thinks should be done. He hasn’t yet so I don’t have a response. I wanna see what he’s gonna recommend.”

Barack Obama and Guantanamo

GOP candidates renew calls to preserve Guantanamo