Election Day is almost here. National security has emerged as an issue for Trump and Clinton to discuss.
Both candidates believe they have the upper hand. Clinton contrasts her experience with Trump’s unpredictability. Trump argues that Americans worried about their safety will be left with more of the same without him. With Clinton’s recent battles with not protecting highly classified emails, Trump may have the upper hand.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton confronted their key weaknesses in a televised national security forum. The Republican defended his preparedness to be commander in chief despite vague plans for tackling global challenges. The Democrat argued that her controversial email practices did not expose questionable judgment.
Trump also renewed his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his disdain for President Barack Obama. He said that the Russian enjoyed an 82 percent approval rating. “The man has very strong control over a country,” Trump said. “It’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”
Trump is not your typical Republican.
GOP candidates are often seen by voters as having an advantage on military and national security issues. Trump is far from a traditional Republican. He has no military experience and has repeatedly criticized the skill of the armed forces.
A flood of Republican national security experts have instead chosen to back Clinton, helping to bolster her case that Trump is broadly unacceptable. Earlier Wednesday, former Defense Secretary William Cohen joined the list of GOP officials supporting Clinton.
Ahead of the forum, Trump rolled out a new plan to boost military spending by tens of billions of dollars, including major increases in the number of active troops, fighter planes, ships, and submarines.
His address earlier in the day included plans to eliminate deep spending cuts known as the “sequester” that were enacted when Congress failed to reach a budget compromise in 2011. Republicans and Democrats voted for the automatic, across-the-board cuts that affected both military and domestic programs, though the White House has long pressed Congress to lift the spending limits.
Clinton’s made her fair share of mistakes.
Clinton reiterated that she had made mistakes in relying on a personal email account and private online server as secretary of state and in voting for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a senator. But she defended her support for U.S. military intervention to help oust a dictator in Libya, despite the chaotic aftermath.”I’m asking to be judged on the totality of my record,” said Clinton, who grew visibly irritated at times with the repeated focus on her past actions.
Clinton, who has cast Trump as dangerously ill-prepared to be commander in chief, tried to center the discussion on her foreign policy proposals. She vowed to defeat the Islamic State group “without committing American ground troops” to Iraq or Syria. And she pledged to hold weekly Oval Office meetings with representatives from the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to stay abreast of health care for veterans.
Trump did little to counter the criticism that he lacks detailed policy proposals, particularly regarding the Islamic State group. He both insisted he has a private blueprint for defeating the extremist group and that he would demand a plan from military leaders within 30 days of taking office.
But he was also harshly critical of the military, saying America’s generals have been “reduced to rubble” under Obama. Asked to square his request for military options with that criticism, Trump said simply: “They’ll probably be different generals.”
Trump stands by previous comments.
Trump stood by a previous comment that appeared to blame military sexual assaults on men and women serving together. But he added he would not seek to remove women from the military. And for the first time, he opened the door to granting legal status to people living in the U.S. illegally who join the military.
“I think that when you serve in the armed forces, that’s a very special situation,” Trump said. “And I could see myself working that out.”
Online and offline security is more important than ever. Hopefully America and its new president will be ready and able to combat the challenges that await us.