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In Wake of Paris, Will Hillary Strike a Hawkish Tone in Democratic Debate?

'We intend to ask the candidates how they would confront the evolving threat of terrorism,' says CBS News

Sanders, Clinton, and O'Malley after the first Democratic debate last month in Las Vegas. (Photo: European Pressphoto Agency)

Hillary Clinton's hawkishness could be front-and-center during Saturday's Democratic primary debate, which has shifted its focus in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris to "issues of terrorism, national security, and foreign relations."

The debate between between 2016 presidential hopefuls Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders is taking place in Des Moines, Iowa at 9 pm EST. It will be aired on CBS and live-streamed at and on mobile apps, for free and without registration.

The New York Times reported that the CBS News team was "in the middle of a rehearsal for the debate when news broke about the slaughter in Paris" and "immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks."

"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," CBS News vice president and Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham said in a statement.

The Associated Press suggested that "[a]s a former secretary of state, Clinton enters the debate in a stronger position to talk about the attacks and the U.S. effort to dismantle [ISIS]."

But USA Today reported:


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The debate creates a challenge for Clinton, as it magnifies her public split with Obama on his approach to Syria. Several weeks ago, she was critical of Obama by saying there should be a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors in Syria, something Obama’s rejected.

Clinton has long advocated for a more robust approach in the Middle East to thwart the Islamic State, including when she was a member of Obama’s administration. As a U.S. senator she voted to authorize the war in Iraq, though she has since called that decision a mistake.

As NPR noted: "Clinton has always been seen as more hawkish than President Obama, and that's something that hurt her in 2008, especially in a state like Iowa, which has its caucus roots in the anti-war movement."

Sanders, meanwhile, has said he believes "the crisis in Syria will be solved diplomatically, not militarily," and that escalating U.S. involvement in Syria "could lead to perpetual warfare."

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