Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz spoke to about 300 people packed into the Praise Community Church in downtown Mason City this morning. It was the Texas Senator’s first opportunity to comment publicly after authorities arrested two people on terrorism-related charges in California and Texas.

“Both came in through the vetting programs that President Obama tells us are perfectly effective for vetting terrorists,” Cruz said.

One is a refugee from Iraq who’s charged with lying to federal investigators about his travels to Syria. He was arrested Thursday in Sacramento. Another terror suspect was arrested yesterday in Cruz’s hometown of Houston.

“One is charged with providing material support to ISIS. The other is charged with having traveled to Syria to fight alongside radical Islamic terrorists,” Cruz said. “…Let me tell you, a year from now, we will not weaken, will we not degrade — we will utterly and completely destroy ISIS.”

Cruz told the crowd President Obama is more interested in taking guns away from law-abiding Americans than he is in protecting the country.

“It’s wrong. It doesn’t make any sense and we need a commander-in-chief who will keep us safe and protect our constitutional right at the same time,” Cruz said, “and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Cruz is making three other stops in north-central Iowa today. He’ll wrap up his six-day, thousand-mile bus tour through the state tomorrow.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KGLO, Mason City)