President Obama speaks during a news conference with Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2015.
Susan Walsh—AP
By Tessa Berenson
November 18, 2015

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Paris, President Obama harshly criticized Republicans for their calls to close the United States’s borders to Syrian refugees. The GOP candidates are now striking back at Obama for what they say were his unnecessarily partisan remarks.

Speaking at a press conference in the Philippines Wednesday, Obama said, “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. It’s counterproductive and it needs to stop.” This followed a hard line he took against Republicans during a speech at the G20 Summit in Turkey Monday.

Several Republican candidates quickly hit back at the President in the following days.

On Wednesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sharply criticized Obama’s treatment of his stance on not wanting to admit Syrian refugees into the United States, and challenged him to a debate.

“It is utterly un-befitting of the president to be engaging in those kinds of personal insults and attacks,” Cruz told NBC. “He talked about how he was belittling the Republican field as scared. Let me suggest something, Mr. President. If you want to insult me you can do it overseas, you can do it in foreign countries. But I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face.”

Speaking on Fox News Tuesday, real estate mogul Donald Trump said of Obama’s speech in Turkey, “It was insulting. He wasn’t angry at the killers, the murderers, the animals that did this horrible thing. He was angry at reporters, and I think some of the Republicans frankly. … That was a terrible performance yesterday and an embarrassment to the country.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on Fox News Wednesday, saying, “For this president to blame Republicans, this is what he and Hillary Clinton always do… This is why the city is so divided in Washington, D.C. and our country is divided, because they speak that way.”

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also spoke on Fox News Wednesday. “It is outrageous that a sitting president, immediately following a terrorist attack where we know that ISIS is attempting to plan attacks here in the U.S., that he would use his time to attack Republicans,” she said.

And former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum weighed in on Twitter:

Read More: Obama Hits Bush and Cruz Over Syrian Refugees

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@timeinc.com.

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