Tags: 2016 Elections | Hillary Clinton | Paris Attacks

Debate: No Mention of 'Islamic Terrorism' by Democrats

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Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 12:08 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In what could become a potential attack point for Republicans, an observer of Saturday’s Democratic debate, David Pietrusza, author of four best-selling books on elections, pointed out that “on a day in which Islamic terrorism ruled the news cycle, no candidate dared sign on to the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism.’ It was not an impressive sight.”

Most eyes were focused on Paris following the terrorist attack that took the lives of 129 people; however, the second showdown among the Democrats was a lively event, neutral observers told me.

G. Terry Madonna, Franklin and Marshall College professor who is considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, told me he considered Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley a “tag team” that “aggressively went after Hillary Clinton throughout the entire debate. Sanders especially went after Clinton on Wall Street; O'Malley went after her hard on gun control.”

Clinton, Madonna felt, “played defense on virtually all the questions dealing with ISIS and the Middle East. And Obama was not spared on Middle East, especially when Clinton stated a tougher position on dealing with ISIS.”

“The overall debate was much livelier and more contentious than the first one,” he concluded, “especially in the last hour. But not much new was learned. This debate was far more level than the first, when Hillary Clinton dominated. All the candidates were more animated and O'Malley much stronger than in the past. Not much is likely to change in the months ahead.”

Demetri Sevastopulo, Washington Bureau chief of the Financial Times, said, “Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley launched a pincer movement against Hillary Clinton on everything from her views on tackling terrorism to her ties to Wall Street.” Savastopulo told me, “While they succeeded in putting her under more pressure than during the first debate, neither made a strong enough dent to alter the dynamic of the race.”

But, he quickly noted, “When they sparred over terrorism, Clinton displayed a depth of experience that her rivals simply cannot match. When Sanders suggested that her decision to back the Iraq war contributed to the rise of extremism, she effectively responded that the US has been facing terrorist threats for decades. When the moderator asked O'Malley if the world was too dangerous a place to have a former governor with no foreign policy experience in the White House, he had no substantive reply.”

Sevastopulo believes, however, that Clinton’s two opponents did manage to force her to make comments that could come back to haunt her if she wins the nomination and faces a tough Republican opponent. She defended her ties to Wall Street by arguing that as senator for New York when 9/11 occurred, she helped rebuild Manhattan, which she described as a "rebuke" to the terrorists. Her response was met with ridicule on Twitter.

Pietrusza said,“Hillary dominated far less than in the first debate, partially from Dickerson’s sharp questioning on the Middle East and partly from Sanders and O'Malley's newfound feistiness. On foreign policy, she seemed nervous and defensive.”

Like other observers, Pietrusza felt O’Malley turned in a good performance. The former governor, he told me, “Repeatedly jabbed Clinton, whether in calling her proposals ‘weak tea’ or mocking her as ‘Annie Oakley.’ O'Malley proved he belonged on the stage, although his poll numbers will most likely continue to deliver a different verdict.”

As for Bernie Sanders, Pietrusza felt he came out the worst of the trio: "Once again, Bernie Sanders, supposedly a fighter, turned and ran on the Clinton email issue, saving his fire for Wall Street and unnamed ‘political corruption’" and promising to break open the piggy bank on college tuition and the minimum wage. The problem with Bernie Sanders isn't that he doesn't look presidential. He doesn't even look vice-presidential.”

The real winner, Pietrusza felt, “was the dictum that less is more. Featuring only three candidates on the platform made for a better evening than featuring five — or the ‘subway car at rush hour’ effect than has marked the prime-time Republican contests.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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Most eyes were focused on Paris following the terrorist attack. David Pietrusza, author of books on elections, pointed out that “on a day in which Islamic terrorism ruled the news cycle, no candidate dared sign on to the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism.’ It was not an impressive sight.”
2016 Elections, Hillary Clinton, Paris Attacks
Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 12:08 PM
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