Liberal commentator Peter Beinart offered a harsh critique of all the Democratic candidates’ answers on terrorism during the debate Saturday night, saying they did not offer any tangible solutions to defeating the Islamic State.
"I say this as a liberal, I would be concerned as a Democrat about the entire terrorism part of this debate," Beinart said.
The crux of Beinart’s argument is that Republicans offer a clearer, more decisive vision for defeating the Islamic State than all three Democratic candidates.
"The Republican line, whatever you think about it, is very clear. It’s that we left Iraq, the terrorists filled a vacuum, we retreated from the world, now they are going after us," Beinart said. "I would be darned to listen to all three of those candidates to discern a clear Democratic line of how you’re actually going to fight terrorism. They were very vague, very non-specific, and I think they have a lot of work to do."
The candidates offered rhetoric that balanced having a strong tone on fighting terrorism, but also cautioning that the U.S. should not be at the forefront of the fight.
"It cannot be contained. It must be defeated," Hillary Clinton said before later adding, "But this cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential."
"This actually is America’s fight. It cannot solely be America’s fight," former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said.
"The United States cannot do it alone," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) offered.
The liberal senator whose message focuses more on economic issues than foreign policy also stated climate change is a leading contributor to global terrorism.
"Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism," Sanders said to CBS anchor John Dickerson. "If we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world, and this is what the CIA says, they are going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you are going to see all sorts of international conflict."
"I think if you are a voter at home, this is very frightening," commentator S.E. Cupp said.
"If terrorism is going to be a major, major issue in this election, the polls show people trust Republicans on it. They are going to have to do better," Beinart said.
ABC’s Rick Klein offered similar analysis:
"If the presidential race is turning toward foreign policy now, it may be Republicans who can offer crisper answers. None of the three Democrats would accept the concept of a war with "radical Islam"; all Republicans on a similar debate stage surely would."