Foreign policy and national security measures are the number one issue for potential Republican candidates ahead of the race for the White House in 2016, according to Politico
The U.S. government is facing constant international headaches while dealing with Islamic State (ISIS) militants, the Iran nuclear threat, the safety of Israel, the aggression of Russia, the hostilities in Iraq and Syria, the belligerence of China, and the terrorism in Europe.
With the crises changing on a weekly basis and America's safety as a leading priority, the emerging presidential campaigns are having to continuously update their messaging, their tactics and their strategy just to keep up with current events, the political news website reported.
"I think it's fair to say that not since 9/11 has there been such an intense focus on foreign policy issues," said former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican who sat on the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security committees, adding that international problems are now the "No. 1 issue" in 2016.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) usually focuses on social and fiscal issues for presidential contenders, but this year presidential wannabes devoted their speeches to international concerns.
And Politico noted that experts on foreign affairs are more important this cycle than in any other previous campaign, with a growing field of GOP candidates for 2016 battling it out for the services of those experts.
"All this [hiring] is occurring earlier than it has in the past on the foreign policy side, and I think that's probably because it's a bigger issue than it has been in recent elections," said former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, who served on the Armed Services Committee and was one of Mitt Romney's national security advisers.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a front-runner in the race, has already signed up 21 foreign policy and national security advisers for his burgeoning campaign, including several figures from his brother's and father's administrations, Politico reported.
The shift to foreign policy as the major issue has created a vacuum filled by such unlikely presidential contenders as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, an Armed Services Committee member and a fierce advocate for a stronger military position overseas.
"All of a sudden, Lindsey has become a real player," said Coleman, who attended a Graham fundraiser this month in Washington that included pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Larry Mizel, an American Israel Public Affairs Committee board member, and David Flaum, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has also jumped on the foreign policy bandwagon by arguing that the danger imposed by the Islamic State should lead the GOP to back a nominee who has a strong enough background on national security to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Politico reported.
"The world has changed. We don't need just someone with a strong economic plan," said Santorum during his CPAC address. He added: "The biggest issue in 2016 will be national security."
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