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Democratic Candidates Identify National-Security Threats

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Maybe it was inevitable, with 10 candidates onstage. When the Democratic contenders were asked during Wednesday night’s debate to identify the greatest threat to the United States, what came back was a total lack of consensus. The exchange highlighted deeper divisions within the Democratic Party about the foreign-policy answer to Donald Trump’s blend of isolationism, mercantilism, protectionism, and bluster.

Here’s where the candidates landed:

John Delaney: China and nuclear weapons

Jay Inslee: Trump

Tulsi Gabbard: The risk of nuclear war

Amy Klobuchar: China in economic terms, and also Iran

Beto O’Rourke: Climate change

Elizabeth Warren: Climate change

Cory Booker: Nuclear proliferation and climate change

Julián Castro: China and climate change

Tim Ryan: China

Bill de Blasio: Russia

China popped up most frequently on the list—and in that sense, at least four Democrats share a major concern with Trump, whose trade confrontation with China is one of the defining issues of his foreign policy. Another top worry of Trump’s administration was notably scarce: At a time of escalating tensions in the Gulf, with Iran shooting down a U.S. drone and Trump nearly attacking the Islamic Republic, only Klobuchar mentioned Iran. Earlier, when the candidates were asked whether they would get back into the Iran nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated, everyone but Booker raised their hand; Booker said that while he thought it was a mistake to leave the deal—negotiated among Barack Obama’s administration, world powers, and Iran—he would try to use any leverage to get a better one.

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