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Trump v Clinton on foreign policy


He has called her incompetent and blamed “the disasters” of Iraq and Libya on her and President Barack Obama. She has publicly revealed that panicked world leaders have been calling to ask if they can somehow endorse her to stop her opponent.

They’re not officially the nominees yet until the conventions in July but Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton look set for an historic clash between candidates on everything from trade to immigration but also, crucially on foreign policy and their divergent world views.

Past presidential elections have often brought speculation about the importance of foreign policy in the debate but it is rarely a determining factor in how people vote. But this election comes at an inflection point for the US and beyond the specifics of policies on the Middle East or China, the general theme of America’s role in the world has been on the mind of deeply anxious voters. Trump has tapped into an isolationist mood in the country that will prove a challenge for Clinton, a strong proponent of America’s continued, engaged leadership.

Most of Mrs Clinton’s attacks against the New York billionaire have so far focused on his domestic policy statements and rhetoric. In response to his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico, Clinton has talked about “breaking down barriers”, in reaction to his call to ban Muslims she has released an ad about “love and kindness”.

But Mrs Clinton has not yet focused fully on drawing a contrast with the Republican candidate on foreign policy, including because Mrs Clinton herself yet to fully incorporate her worldview in her stump speech. Aside from detailed speeches to rarefied audiences at think tanks and universities, the former secretary of state has mostly spoken about foreign policy when asked specific questions in debates or town halls.

A senior Clinton aide told me the campaign is now working on building a more forceful case for her vision of how and why American leadership matters for American voters and explaining the impact on their lives.

If Mrs Clinton has a traditional outlook on the exercise of American power, Mr Trump sees it all as a business deal. His approach was perfectly summed up in a recent article by Thomas Wright who argued Mr Trump’s views have been long standing and consistent.


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