He charged that President Barack Obama's administration should have designated 19-year-old suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev an "enemy combatant" and tried him outside the traditional criminal justice system.
Another GOP candidate, Mike Sullivan, says the federal government should have denied Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, tried him as an enemy combatant and revoked his U.S. citizenship.
"Our first concern must always be preventing future terrorist acts against our people," said Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney whose campaign has been reminding people that he previously led the prosecution of shoe bomber Richard Reid.
Republican candidate Dan Winslow, a former judge and chief legal counsel under former Gov. Mitt Romney, said the entire GOP field has experience with national security.
"We've got a Navy SEAL, a former prosecutor and a former judge all in the field for Republicans," Winslow said. "I think we all have our own credentials. The key is, Who's got the better ideas? Who's got the better electability in June?"
The key may also be which candidate can convince his supporters to get to the polls as the bombing continues to dominate attention in Massachusetts. State officials were already predicting a low turnout, likely less than 20 percent of eligible voters, even before the attack.
Wendy Becker, 45, of Newton, was among the thousands who visited the bomb site in Copley Square late last week. A registered voter, she said she didn't know the primaries were happening so soon.
"I didn't even know it was Tuesday and haven't cared," she said, noting that her little brother and brother-in-law ran in the marathon. She's been glued to the television coverage of the aftermath even since.
"I don't really know much about the candidates," she said while standing on the freshly poured cement on Boylston Street, where one of the bombs exploded. "I think this just took over the whole voting thing."
The general election, featuring the primary winners, is scheduled for June 25.
Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed to this report.
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