Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times
Republican presidential candidates wasted no time following the terrorist attacks in Paris to put forth their ideas for fighting the Islamic State. They’ve proposed bombing oil fields in the Middle East (Donald J. Trump), permitting only Christian refugees into the United States (Senator Ted Cruz of Texas) and sending ten,000 American troops to Iraq and Syria (Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina).
The Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, have been much less vocal in how they would respond to the attacks that shook the French capital final Friday.
On Thursday, nevertheless, Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver an in-depth speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York about her national safety proposals and how she would combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.
The Democrats so far have spoken mostly in broad platitudes, vowing to support France and stand with American allies in the fight against terrorism, but supplying couple of specifics. Mrs. Clinton will face the difficult dynamic of putting forth her personal tips with no appearing to criticize President Obama, under whom she served as secretary of state for four years.
In the second Democratic debate in Des Moines on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin O’Malley bowed their heads in a solemn moment of solidarity with the French and affirmed their commitment to joining a coalition to defeat the Islamic State. But the conversation swiftly evolved into criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s 2002 vote as senator to authorize the Iraq War, and to her policies as secretary of state, such as her push to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. (“I’m not a massive fan of regime change,” Mr. Sanders said.)
But as Republicans have employed the tragedy in France to highlight what they say are Mr. Obama’s significant weaknesses on foreign policy, Democrats have been loath to criticize his method. Even as the party’s presidential candidates wade deeper into policies on Syria and Iraq, they should walk a cautious line not to appear to be undermining Mr. Obama, who remains widely popular among Democratic main voters.
Mrs. Clinton will most likely use the speech on Thursday to differentiate herself from Mr. Obama in subtle techniques, including reminding voters of disagreements when she was secretary of state, like when she pushed the administration to arm some moderate Syrian rebels in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad.
The address will be the second time that Mrs. Clinton has delivered a wide-ranging foreign policy speech in a campaign heavily focused on economic problems. In September, she gave a substantial address about the Iran nuclear deal before a question-and-answer session at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
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