Paris attacks shift focus of the presidential race toward foreign policy

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The race for the presidential nomination took a turn Nov. 13. The coordinated terrorists attacks in Paris, France left the world in shock, and investigations were immediately launched to uncover who was behind the attacks. While the world watched and mourned for those lost, the men and women competing for the Democratic and Republican nominations for President of the United States faced questions from American citizens, the media and the world about the global safety.

The U.S. government is trying to ensure the safety of the homeland. On the latest episode of This Week with George Stephanopoulos that aired the Sunday after the attacks, Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for the president and other experts on terrorism were all interviewed about what the United States should do to keep Americans safe during this time of conflict.

Stephanopoulos interviewed Senator Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican nomination and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, about the effects that the attacks will have on America and the 2016 election. Rubio was well versed on foreign policy, global issues and national security during the interview. The attacks have raised the question in the minds of many Americans: which candidates are qualified and ready to be president?

Since the attacks in Paris, America has been on high alert and taking precautions against an attack of similar proportions in the United States. An ISIS video that was released Thursday, Nov. 19, threatened the United States, France and Italy, and takes credit for the terrorist attacks in France, Russia and Beirut. President Obama is aware of the growing threat and that the next president who moves into the Oval Office will inherit the problem.

“It’s going to be a multiyear task,” he said, “And we’re not going to be able to fully succeed in eliminating their safe havens until we have a political settlement of some sort in Syria.”

Since this problem is not going to go away anytime soon, some Americans are looking at the experience that the candidates have that can better prepare them for the role as Commander in Chief.

Hillary Clinton is currently the Secretary of State for the U.S.; before that she served as a Senator for the state of New York and as the First Lady of the United States from 1992 until 2000. As Secretary of State, she built a coalition for new sanctions against Iran and brokered a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. The multiple positions she has held in Washington D.C. has helped develop Clinton’s experience and expertise when it comes to foreign policy and working with other world leaders.

Senator Rubio is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security; and the Committee on Foreign Relations. This experience has prepared him to know how to handle the threats from ISIS. Rubio has already outlined a 4-point plan to defeat ISIS, which includes stopping the flow of refugees into America, removing the military budget cuts, enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria and executing a military mission to destroy ISIL.

This crisis has swayed the focus of the race. Instead of focusing on social problems like abortion or the economy, Americans are concerned about the threat of attacks from our enemies and want to know which candidates are prepared with the knowledge and understanding to handle these challenges.

Candidates like Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina, who have more experience with the economy and social issues, are not as prepared for questions about national security. Trump told NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard that he would require a database to track Muslims, wants to put mosques under surveillance, and has proposed that the United States should deport millions of illegal immigrants. Some people have compared these comments to Nazi Germany. Ben Carson was asked about Trump’s comments when he was filing for the New Hampshire presidential primary and whether he agreed whether or not there should be surveillance to track possible Muslim extremists.

“I think we should have a database on everybody who comes into this country,” Carson said. “Hopefully, we already have a database on every citizen who is already here. If we don’t, we are doing a very poor job.”

It will be interesting to see how the next debate goes for the candidates who do not have much knowledge on foreign policy or national security. American citizens will want to know who can keep them safe, and the person who can prove their knowledge in a debate should see a spike in the polls over the next few weeks until this problem with ISIS dies down, if it does.

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