National Security Divides the Candidates

Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump (L) shakes hand with Senator Ted Cruz as he arrives onstage with Cruz and former Governor Jeb Bush before the start of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas

REUTERS/David Becker

On Tuesday night, CNN hosted a Republican presidential debate featuring the topic that’s on everyone’s mind following the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino: National Security. For policy wonks it was interesting and illuminating. For those unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of foreign policy it was at times hard to follow. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Danna Bash and Hugh Hewitt put together excellent questions (barring a notable exception about Ben Carson’s ability to kill children during war) and it was clear that the candidates can be divided by who wants to keep the U.S. out of foreign conflicts–ala President Obama–and who would be more likely to engage, like Hillary Clinton.

There were plenty of attacks and back-and-forth rebuttals. Cruz accused Rubio of undermining U.S. safety by supporting the Obama administration’s policies that destabilize governments in the Middle East, with the result being a boon for terrorists. Rubio accused Cruz of voting against funding national defense, leaving the U.S. with a smaller military.

Rubio accused Cruz of voting for the USA Freedom Act that hurt national security by restricting the government’s ability to collect phone metadata. Cruz argued the Act gave improved security by allowing a search of cell phones and internet phones. Rand Paul defended the vote, saying, “Every terrorist attack we have had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco [Rubio] wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny; and to defend the country, you have to defend the borders.”

How well did they do?

Donald Trump: Didn’t hurt himself in the debate. Still did not present any policies or plans other than, “Trust me. I’ll do it.” At the end of the debate, he said he is “totally committed to the Republican Party,” and has ruled out a third-party bid, no matter what. That announcement came as a surprise and was well received by the audience.

Marco Rubio: Likeable and knowledgeable with a compelling personal story of his parents’ emigration from Cuba. Rubio is the leader of the pack who believes America’s active involvement in world events is the best way to keep the homeland safe. His conservative status is weakened because he was one of the “Gang of Eight” who opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students and is liberal on immigration.

Ted Cruz: Arguably the most conservative candidate, he was clear, persuasive and didn’t back down on any of his positions. Cruz was accused by Rubio of supporting a legal status for illegals in 2013. However, Cruz dug in even deeper and said, “I never supported legislation, and I do not intend to support legislation” [for amnesty.]

Chris Christie: Can deliver a clear message. Was able to show how well he understands domestic terror, drawing on his experience as a prosecutor and governor. Christie may see an uptick in the polls, although he–like Rand Paul who also did well–has a long way to go if he is to join the leaders.

After a lackluster performance, look for Ben Carson’s numbers to fall and Ted Cruz to pick up his supporters. Donald Trump will probably gain more support, as he has continued to do despite his wild statements and lack of concrete policy.

The question we should ask ourselves is Should America relinquish leadership to keep herself safe, or is global leadership the best route to our safety? Of those at the top of the polls, only Rubio puts American global leadership and diplomacy above action. Trump, Cruz and Carson believe that “global leadership” can come at the expense of American safety. This is the same question we were asking ourselves right before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and made the decision for us.
Father, thank You for answering our prayers for great questions and for us to see how these candidates think. Thank You for raising up a candidate that will look to You for guidance and to Your Word for truth. Make Your choice obvious. Guide us as we get closer to voting in this pivotal election, and whatever happens, we are blessed knowing You care and we’re safe in Your hands.
(Psa 31:3) For thou art my rock and my fortress; 

therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

(Psa 25:5) Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

 

 

 

 

 

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