Republicans push Obama for strong response to Sony hack

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida pushed President Obama to respond aggressively to North Korea for hacking Sony Pictures in order to scuttle the release of the movie "The Interview."

"This is the first act of cyber warfare that's really gotten a lot of attention. How the president handles this is very important," Graham said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Graham said that the president should "make it so hard on the North Koreans they don't want to do this in the future."

He suggested a range of measures, including re-imposing sanctions that were lifted by President Bush, and putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, something Mr. Obama said Sunday is under consideration. He said the hacking was a direct attack on "who we are" and that the next cyberattack could hit U.S. power plants or financial services.

Graham was critical of the way the president has handled the response so far, including calling the cyberattack "an act of vandalism."

"It is an act of terrorism and I hope people respond forcefully because the Iranians are watching everything this man does," Graham said, suggesting that the president has been ineffective at deterring other leaders like Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The Iranians are sizing up Obama and I don't like the way they view him because I think he has been weak and indecisive from one end of the planet to another," Graham said.

Marco Rubio: "As many Americans as possible" should see "The Interview"

In a separate interview, Rubio said the attack "needs to be responded to in multiple ways," and said he would support that. He also said it was "critical" that the movie be made available and "as many Americans as possible" should see it.

Sony Pictures cancelled the theatrical release after the hackers threatened terrorist attacks. The president said Friday that was a "mistake."

"I think it's important that that movie be played, that that movie be seen," Rubio said. "I don't even know if it's a good movie, but I think it is now important that that happen, that we figure out a way to get that out there so Americans can watch it."

He said that the movie could be released on a streaming video platform or available for viewing at Sony in order to show "that we're not going to allow these attacks to infringe upon on constitutional rights."

He did acknowledge that the U.S. should consider the leadership of North Korea in its response.

"Unfortunately, they have nuclear weapons and are led by an irrational leader, so all that needs to be taken into account," Rubio said. "It's a very serious threat, it's not just a cyber threat. I think North Korea has the potential to become a source of huge instability in the next few months."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.