(Photo Credit:JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images) The last Democratic Presidential debate of this year marked the tensions between candidates over foreign policy, terrorism, gun control and the latest controversy of a breach of the Democratic National Committee’s voter data.
The third Democratic Presidential debate was hosted by ABC News and held at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sander of Vermont and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
The three contenders sparred on various issues including Syria and the fight against the Islamic State, as well as tax policies.
The debate is the first one after the mass shooting in San Bernardino where a Muslim couple killed 14 people and was accused of terrorism in the name of Islam. The events followed the deadly Paris attacks where the Islamic State, also know an ISIS killed 130 people. These events made national security the priority of the campaign agenda.
According to Reuters, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she supports President Barack Obama and his effort to use air strikes against ISIS in Syria and backs the use of special operations in northern Syria and an additional 3,500 U.S. troops to assist and train the Iraqi forces. She said “We now finally are where we need to be. We have a strategy and a commitment to go after ISIS.” She added that a United National Security Council resolution has allowed for “the world to get together to go after a political transition in Syria.”
Clinton’s chief rival, on the other hand, said that he too is for the defeat of the extremist organizations ISIS, but added that the focus should only be on that and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should not be removed at once. He said “We could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS.”
Clinton also said that she would not raise taxes for the average American and reiterated her concern about some of Bernie Sanders’ policy proposals such as creation of a single payer health care system and a tuition free college.
The two main rivals also clashed on foreign policy regarding Libya and Clinton defended her efforts to overthrow Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. According to Reuters, she said “I am no giving up on Libya and no one should.” She also added that Sanders is hypocritical regarding Libya, because he supported the regime change and had a Senate vote for a resolution that urged Gaddafi to resign and create a peaceful transition towards democracy.
Democratic strategist Bud Jackson said that Clinton’s support for Obama’s policy in Syria could ruin her image if the war takes a darker turn. He said “Everything is so unpredictable in Syria. Even the smallest things can be capitalized on as an ‘I told you so.’”.
The debate has left the race for the Democratic nomination unchanged, with Clinton still holding a big lead in national polls, while Sanders and O’Malley are struggling to gain momentum to make a considerable shift.