In one tragic night of senseless jihadi slaughter, the landscape of the 2016 election was transformed and the momentum shifted further in the direction of two principled, populist contenders.
Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, stand poised after the shift to a foreign policy election to translate their toughness and America-first outlook into support from a nation seeking leadership against ISIS, and protection on the home-front.
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An NBC Poll released Nov. 17, four days after the tragic jihadi attacks in Paris, showed Trump in first place — as other surveys did — but also showed Cruz surging to second place at 18 percent, tied with a falling Dr. Ben Carson, and opening a 7 point lead on Establishment rising star Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Before the electoral focus shifted to terrorism, voters flocked in large numbers to Trump, and increasingly Cruz, precisely because on immigration and trade the pair forcefully argued the interests of ordinary Americans should supersede arguments for the betterment of lives and societies outside the United States.
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That consistent message is resonating with voters who see their current leaders willing to risk importing improperly vetted and potentially radicalized refugees for the good of the Syrian people, and who see Establishment Republicans brimming with excitement to hike military spending, but without a clear strategy to protect American interests.
The infusion of intense populist sentiments into the issue of foreign policy does not bode well for Hillary Clinton.
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The infusion of intense populist sentiments into the issue of foreign policy does not bode well for Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup with an “America First” candidate.
“I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees,” Clinton said in the Nov. 14 Democratic debate held the day after the attacks in Paris, “the administration originally said 10 (thousand). I said we should go to 65 (thousand).”
There is not a more upside-down response to rising fears of terrorist infiltration in the West than to call for an even greater influx of refugees, most of whom are truly impossible to vet, especially in a presidential contest defined by Americans craving leaders who will put their safety and interests first.
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Worse for Clinton even than her legacy as secretary of state and a Middle East spiraling out of control could be the rationale behind it, which failed to account for American interests.
When Clinton forcefully advocated for American intervention to topple Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, her justification was the impending danger to the Libyan people.
“We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I’m sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people,” Clinton said during the first Democratic debate.
Even after Libya fell to pieces once Gadhafi was removed, Clinton advocated for strong American support for rebel forces in Syria opposing President Assad, a policy that allowed ISIS to expand rapidly in the country as Assad battled American-backed rebels to retain power.
Unclear was how this might benefit the American people. Now, with ISIS locating its capital within Syria, it’s clear her Syria policy harmed America.
It is just such an absence of America’s interests in the thinking of our leaders — and the resulting tragedies — that Trump and Cruz would surely correct.
The Washington Establishment, pining as ever for an end to Trump, thought a foreign policy focus would finally finish him off.
Establishment Republicans belted out somber odes of hope over the certain fall of Trump in the new foreign-policy focused 2016 landscape.
As soon as the appropriate time had passed after the tragedy in Paris to begin talking politics, Establishment Republicans belted out somber odes of hope over the certain fall of Trump in the new foreign-policy focused 2016 landscape.
“The losers are going to be Donald Trump and Ben Carson on national security,” former South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson told Politico in a Nov. 17 roundup of GOP Establishment-think.
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“I don’t think (Trump) wins a single primary … I think he gets out,” former Romney adviser Stuart Stevens said in the article.
“Clearly these issues fall in (Bush’s) wheelhouse,” Dov Zakheim, a former high-ranking defense official in the George W. Bush administration, told The Hill.
The punditry joined the ill-fated predictions of doom.
“Until now, many Republicans have been treating the nominating process as a mechanism for sending a message to Washington,” columnist George Will said in a Nov. 18 editorial in the Washington Post. “The eruption of war in the capital of a NATO ally is a reminder that the nominating process will potentially send a commander in chief to Washington. This might, and should, hasten the eclipse of Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and especially Donald Trump.”
But just one day later, two polls showed Trump in first place by a double-digit margin for the first time since mid-October.
The ABC News-Washington Post poll released Nov. 19 puts Trump back above the 30-percent threshold he had not breached since Oct. 18.
As the nation grapples with the new face of global terror and sees a continuing flood of unvetted migrants coming across our unsecured borders, both the GOP Establishment’s hawkishness and the Democrats’ message of American un-exceptionalism are being superceded by the populist, America-first voices of Trump and Cruz.
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