Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
The Democratic candidates debated for the second time Saturday evening, in Des Moines, Iowa. Because of the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, the emphasis of the beginning of the debate focused on a discussion of terrorism, national security and foreign relations. After the first half hour, the debate turned to other issues.
The debate was on Saturday because of a party strategy to minimize the potential audience. The debate began with the moderator saying that "freedom was savagely attacked in the heart of Paris," with no mention of the ISIS attacks in Beirut.
The moderators seemed to have come from Fox News, repeating Republican talking point after talking point. "Obama legacy is he underestimated ISIS." "Why won't you use the words, 'radical Islam'?" "Border fence to keep our country safe." "Raising the minimum wage costs jobs." "There is an FBI investigation of your emails." "Police are not enforcing the law because they are afraid of being caught on camera."
The question about terrorism being attributed to "radical Islam" is a way to tar all Muslims as terrorists. But it gave Clinton the opportunity to give an excellent response:
Clinton: "I don't think we're at war with Islam. I don't think we at war with all Muslims. I think we're at war with jihadists who have --"
Moderator: "Just to interrupt, he -- he didn't say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don't --"
Clinton: "I think that you can -- you can talk about Islamists who -- clearly are also jihadists. But I think it's -- it -- it's not particularly helpful to make the case that -- Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we've gotta reach out to Muslim countries. We've gotta have them be part of our coalition.
"If they hear people running for -- president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam -- that was one of the real contributions -- despite all the other problems that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, 'We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression.' And yes, we are at war with those people that I don't want us to be painting with too broad a brush."
Another example of the right-centric questioning was a question about terrorism to Sanders:
"Senator Sanders, you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?"
"Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say you're gonna see countries all over the world -- this is what the C.I.A. says, they're gonna be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops. And you're gonna see all kinds of international conflict."
Sanders also said, indirectly criticizing Clinton's vote in favor of war with Iraq:
"I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely. And led to the rise of Al Qaeda -- and to -- ISIS."
For a comparison of candidates' plans on security see Campaign for America's Future's Candidate Scorecard. "The Candidate Scorecard measures the positions of Democratic candidates for president against the Populism 2015 platform endorsed by organizations representing 2 million Americans. We awarded points only for concrete policy positions, not for rhetoric, and provide links to document our judgments. We have received feedback from each of the leading candidates."