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Marco Rubio 'Supportive' of Congress Issuing Formal Declaration of War Against Islamic State

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Thursday that he would be "supportive" of Congress issuing a formal declaration of war against the Islamic State.

Appearing on the "Today Show," Rubio said that the terror group had declared war on the U.S. and that he would be happy to return the favor.

Asked if he would issue a formal declaration, Rubio responded, "We are most definitely at war with ISIS and I'd be supportive of declaring that, whether it's formally through Congress or rhetorically."

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Rubio's support for a formal declaration of war puts him at odds with 2016 rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told TheBlaze earlier this month that issuing a formal declaration of war could have negative consequences, such as legitimizing the terror group's claim to being a state.

"A 'Declaration of War' is an act by the Congress declaring war against another nation state," Tyler said. "Since there is no 'state', its unclear if a Declaration of War would apply since the 'Islamic State' is not a recognized state, indeed doing so may legitimize a claim to being a state."

"ISIS is clearly our enemy and must be defeated but doing so does not require a declaration," he added.

The split in policy preferences comes as Rubio attempts to paint Cruz as weak on national security. The Florida senator has seized on Cruz's vote for the USA Freedom Act, a piece of legislation that scrapped the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone data, to suggest the Texas senator is weak on national security issues.

“There are members of the Republican Party, that includes Senator Cruz and Senator [Rand] Paul, who have argued that somehow the government is out there spying on everybody, so we need to gut these programs,” Rubio previously told Fox News. “That isn’t true.”

Last year, Paul called for a formal declaration of war against the Islamic State.

This story has been updated to reflect that Sen. Paul previously expressed support for a formal declaration of war against the Islamic State.

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