Foreign Policy Was The Most Talked About Topic At The #DemDebate And For Very Good Reason

The second Democratic debate could not have come at a more critical time. Given the recent tragic events that transpired in Paris, the issue of combating ISIS as well as other extremist organizations were fresh in the minds of candidates and moderators alike. The most talked about topic at the #DemDebate was foreign policy, dominating a full half hour to kick things off as presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley detailed their plans of action.

Clinton explicitly stated that the fight against terrorists was not America's to lead but rather one in which to help in a collaborative effort to neutralize ISIS. She mentioned that military involvement would be a last resort and touched upon sharing more intelligence and aid as well as diplomatic efforts. Peace clearly was the focus for all three candidates. Though O'Malley immediately responded by saying that he disagreed with the former Secretary of State, his statements echoed her call to action. O'Malley said:

We do have a role in this. Not solely ours. But we must work collaboratively with other nations... Our role in the world is not to roam the globe looking for new dictators to topple. Our role in the world is to make ourselves a beacon of hope, make ourselves stronger at home. But also our role in the world, yes, is also to confront evil when it rises.
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O'Malley was repeatedly asked by moderator John Dickerson if his complete lack of foreign policy experience would prove an insurmountable hurdle in his candidacy. The former Maryland Governor instead side-stepped the questioning to talk about Clinton's experience as Secretary of State. Sanders, meanwhile, repeatedly changed the topic of discussion altogether when faced with similar questioning about ISIS and problems unfolding abroad. He instead focused on climate change as well as veteran's affairs.

The Syrian refugee crisis was also broached, with O'Malley taking the most vocal stance. The third place candidate reiterated his goal of having the United States take in at least 65,000 refugees while Clinton and Sanders echoed his sentiment of offering aide and potential asylum. Though the candidates may differ slightly when it comes to key points in foreign policy, the Saturday night debate showed a unified front on the left. Candidates were thoughtful in the way they broached an incredibly difficult subject in the face of nations around the world mourning the lives lost in Paris. While a somber debate, discussing foreign policy was more than needed at Drake University in Des Moines.