16 Dec 2015

Republicans Argue Over How to Keep America Safe as Trump Sticks to Muslim Ban at Debate

It was an evening of high stakes and low blows, fear mongering and bellicosity, as the still-crowded GOP field assembled Tuesday for one last tussle this year. 
The Republican debate, hosted by CNN in Las Vegas and moderated by Wolf Blitzer, was the first since the terrorist attacks on Paris and San Bernardino. Unsurprisingly, the debate centered on national security and foreign policy.
The big question pundits had prior to the event was whether property tycoon and current frontrunner Donald Trump would back down from his inflammatory proposal to ban Muslims from traveling to the US in the aftermath of the attacks. The comments were universally panned, but cautiously so by other GOP candidates.
Trump appeared to have no regrets.
"People with cellphones, with ISIS flags on them?" Trump replied. "I don't think so, Wolf. They're not coming to this country."
New Jersey governor Chris Christie also firmly defended his call to bar the entry of Syrian refugees, including orphans under the age of five.
"The first job of the president of the United States is to protect your safety and your security and the security and safety of your family," Christie said. "And it was widows and orphans, by the way."
"We now know from watching the San Bernardino attacks that women can commit heinous acts against humanity just the same as men can do," Christie added. "So I don't back away from that position for a minute."
Trump's airtime was squeezed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio's sparring, which gained them more talk time than any other candidates. 
Cruz seemed reluctant to trash talk Trump, masterfully sidestepping any questions which might require direct confrontation.
When Blitzer asked Cruz about Trump's proposal to ban Muslims, Cruz said "everyone understands why Trump has suggested what he has," and then added "we should focus on the problem and defeat it. It's not a war on faith. It's a war on a political and theocratic ideology that seeks to murder us."
The bonhomie between the pair seemed to flow in both directions. Trump recently called Cruz a "maniac," but said towards the end of the debate that he had spent "some time" with Cruz, and had changed his mind, and that he was even considering nominating him as his running mate.
There was a lot of talk about technology and what Kentucky Senator Rand Paul described as "that internet thing" — particularly in reference to the San Bernardino shooters whose alleged declarations of jihad on Facebook in 2012 flew right under the FBI's noses. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina strutted her Hewlett Packard past, stressing the need for a more tech-savvy counter-terrorism program.

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