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News Wrap: Obama defends strategy against terrorism

In our news wrap Wednesday, President Obama defended his strategy against international terrorism and rejected Republican calls for expanded use of torture and aggressive military action during a news conference in Buenos Aires. Also, Sen. Ted Cruz blasted the president’s foreign policies at an event in New York, saying his “weakness and appeasement” gave rise to Islamic terrorism.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And I'm Gwen Ifill.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    On the "NewsHour" tonight, we are on the ground in Brussels. The city grapples with the deadly attacks and the most effective way to fight terror.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    There is a mix of fear and resilience on the streets here tonight, as Belgians shift focus to confronting extremism in their midst.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Then: foreign policy and the next president, today, the Democrats. Hillary Clinton delivers a major address. And we talk with Bernie Sanders.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Can ISIS be destroyed? Of course they can. It's a question of the coalition. It's a question, as King Abdullah has said, Muslim troops on the ground, not American troops. And, by the way, it is not a question of going to war against a religion.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And we travel to the Philippines, where young girls are lured into the sex trade online.

    All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

    (BREAK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In the day's other news: President Obama defended his administration's strategy against terror, and dismissed Republican calls for more aggressive action.

    The president spoke in Buenos Aires, where he met with President Mauricio Macri. At a news conference, he said fighting the Islamic State group is his number one priority.

    But he rejected Donald Trump's calls for water-boarding and Ted Cruz's talk of major military strikes.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    So, when I hear we somebody saying we should carpet-bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Mr. Obama also condemned Cruz's call for surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods. He said it would be wrong and — quote — "un-American to make Muslims feel ghettoized."

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Donald Trump was off the campaign trail today, but Ted Cruz was in New York City, where he fired back at the president. After a rally in Manhattan, Cruz branded the Obama policy a failure, and said Americans are fed up with being — quote — "lectured on Islamophobia."

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: We have seen President Obama's weakness and appeasement give rise to radical Islamic terrorism. ISIS, which President Obama wrongfully dismissed as the junior varsity, is the face of evil. They have declared jihad on America and President Obama refuses to acknowledge that. He is so captured by political correctness, he's unwilling to confront it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Also today, Cruz picked up the endorsement of former rival Jeb Bush, after winning Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Utah. But Donald Trump won the Arizona primary, to pad his delegate lead. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won Arizona, and Bernie Sanders won caucuses in Utah and Idaho.

    We will hear some of Clinton's speech on foreign policy today, and have an interview with Senator Sanders later in the program.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan decried the state of politics and the presidential campaign today in a Washington speech. The Wisconsin Republican named no names, but his remarks appeared pointed directly at front-runner Donald Trump.

    REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: This has always been a tough business. And when passions flare, ugliness is sometimes inevitable. But we shouldn't accept ugliness as the norm. We should demand better from ourselves. We should demand better from one another. We are slipping into being a divisive country.

    We are speaking to each other in echo chambers, where we only talk to those who agree with us, and we think that there is something wrong with the people who don't agree with us.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Ryan has said he will back the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    There's word that most of the warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a cease-fire as of April 10. A special U.N. envoy says it involves the government and its Sunni backers, including Saudi Arabia, plus Shiite rebels. Meanwhile, local officials confirm that a U.S. airstrike killed some 50 militants at an al-Qaida training camp west of the port city of Mukalla on Tuesday.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    An independent task force in Michigan blasted state officials today for mishandling the water contamination crisis in Flint. The group was appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder last year. It found the state is — quote — "fundamentally accountable" for letting lead taint the city's water and then ignoring pleas from the public.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A son of billionaire Warren Buffett has unveiled a $90 million fund to help young girls of color in the U.S. The foundation, run by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, says it's the largest single investment of its kind. The first step will be to survey minority girls and their advocates to determine how best to use the money.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    On Wall Street, a new drop in oil and other commodities pulled stocks down. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 80 points to close just above 17500. The Nasdaq fell more than 50 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 13.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And former mayor — Major League Baseball catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Garagiola has died in Scottsdale, Arizona. He played eight seasons in the majors, and then for decades, he called games on radio and TV, and even co-hosted NBC's "Today Show." He finally retired in 2013. Joe Garagiola was 90 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": Europe's struggle to combat terror; Bernie Sanders on his view of America's role in the fight against ISIS; arguments over covering contraception before the Supreme Court; and much more.

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