Will The Democratic Debate Tackle The Paris Attacks? CBS News Wants To Find The Next Commander-In-Chief
The Paris attacks have horrified the world as French authorities confirmed Saturday that six terrorist assaults left at least 120 people dead and another 200 injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the series of connected attacks, which begs the question of whether or not Saturday night's Democratic debate will address the Paris attacks. The debate is the second televised showdown among the remaining Democratic candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley — and they will be sure to want to distinguish their foreign policy from the rest.
CBS News, which is hosting the event scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, does plan to challenge the candidates on foreign policy since one of them could be the next commander-in-chief. The network on Saturday said it would seek to "shine a light specifically on foreign policy differences among the candidate and strategies to find extremist groups abroad." CBS News Washington bureau chief Chris Isham added, "Last night's attacks are a tragic example of the kind of challenges American presidents face in today's world and we intend to ask the candidates how they would confront the evolving threat of terrorism."
The New York Times reports that Executive Editor and CBS Evening News Executive Producer Steve Capus heard about the terrorist attacks during a debate rehearsal, which was originally being practiced as a different kind of showdown. Capus told the Times that the debate would pose an important test for the Democratic candidates because the international community often looks to America to lead in times of global crisis. "The entire world is looking to the White House," Capus said. "These people are vying to take over this office. ... This is exactly what the president is going to have to face."
Clinton and O'Malley have already publicly commented on the attacks. Soon after news broke, Clinton tweeted her condolences for the victims, saying, "The reports from Paris are harrowing. Praying for the city and families of the victims. -H." Likewise, O'Malley shared his sorrow via Twitter, saying, "Heartbreaking news from Paris. Praying for the country and its people. -O'M."
As the world comes together to stand with France and against terrorism, the 2016 election race now faces a very real test on foreign policy. Both Democrats and Republicans have talked the talk on how they would handle world conflicts, and all of them hold dramatically different views. For Clinton, in particular, the debate could pose an opportunity for her to quell Benghazi critics and reaffirm her ability to handle terrorism. But for all the candidates, Saturday night will give American voters their first glimpse on how three presidential hopefuls would handle a terrorist threat that feels more real than ever.