The three remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, took part in the second debate of the 2016 election cycle on CBS Saturday night. Before diving into the issues, the participants, moderators and audience members acknowledged the victims in Paris by holding a moment of silence.
Based on the first question, it was clear CBS moderator John Dickerson was not going to make it a breezy night for Mrs. Clinton. Just hours before the terror carnage in Paris took 129 lives, President Obama declared ISIS had been “contained.” Do you believe the Obama administration has understated the threat of ISIS? Dickinson pointedly asked Clinton.
Clinton began by avoiding the question, speaking in general about the threat of ISIS.
“It cannot be contained,” Clinton said. “It must be defeated.”
If we summon our leadership resources, she continued - be it our diplomacy, sharing of intelligence and more, than we can bring people together.
Not content with that ambivalent answer, Dickerson pushed for a more direct response in regards to the White House’s failed foreign policy.
“The president has consistently said is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS,” she said. That’s why, for example, we have ground forces in Iraq and special operations forces in Syria, she explained.
“I think there are many other reasons why it has but I don’t think the U.S. has the bulk of the responsibility. I put that on Assad, Iraq and other forces in the Middle East, she said.
“This cannot be America’s fight.”
Pundits immediately gave her negative marks, suggesting she should have distanced herself from Obama.
Hillary's unwillingness to break cleanly with Obama made that answer on ISIS not so good.— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) November 15, 2015
“I disagree,” O’Malley said. “It is America’s fight.”
America is best when we work with our allies, he said. “ISIS has attacked a Western democracy and we do have a role.”
“The great failing of these last 15 years has been our failing of US intel on the ground,” he added. “We must rise to this occasion.”
As for Sen. Bernie Sanders, he still thinks climate change is the greatest threat to national security.
“Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.”
No wonder this debate was held when no one would watch.