Clinton did very well in three areas. First she turned the "special interest issue" against him, with the interest being guns. He struggled to explain his gun control voting record and didn't quite answer a question about whether he would apologize to Sandy Hook victims, as one family member has called for, for "putting the gun lobby above our families."
Second, she brought home a key point several times, namely that it is easy to diagnose a problem, but harder to do something about it. She did so -- for example, on the issue of fracking, where Sanders criticized her "incrementalism" on energy policy -- while emphasizing a sense of what compromises did. This is an area of vulnerability for Sanders.
Finally, during a discussion of the Supreme Court, she brought up her commitment and determination to fight for women's issues, blasting the fact that so few questions had been asked during the primary campaigns about women's reproductive rights.
Both candidates apparently came into the room Thursday night ready to throw down, and at certain points, the interrupting and loud talking over each other recalled a few of the earlier GOP debates more than the relatively civil exchanges Clinton and Sanders have had until recently.
But overall, Clinton did slightly better in terms of her performance. She didn't have many gaffes, and she didn't allow Sanders to make any serious dents in her campaign.
At the same time, she put onto the agenda -- often over the very vociferous shouts from the Sanders supporters in the room -- the basic message that she wants undecided voters to be thinking about when they make their decision on Tuesday. She can walk away from Brooklyn secure in this.
Sanders, criticized earlier this week for questioning whether Clinton was qualified to be president, sounded like he wanted to squash the dispute by saying she had both the ability and intelligence to be a competent president. But then he questioned her "judgment" for voting to authorize the war in Iraq, which Sanders called "the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country."
He didn't stop there, questioning her judgment on trade, super PACs, and Wall Street.
Clinton didn't let any of that fly. She said New Yorkers found her judgment sound when they elected her as senator twice and that"President Obama trusted me enough to be secretary of State of the United States." Then she went after him, pointing to the New York Daily News editorial page where he stumbled through multiple foreign policy questions.
"I think you need to have the judgment on day one to be president and commander in chief," Clinton said.
Clinton ticked off some numbers to prove she's winning the Democratic primary and is actually better situated to run against Donald Trump in the general election.
"Let us talk about where we are in this race. I have gotten more votes than anybody running. 9.6 million in the last count," Clinton said. "That is 2.3 million more than Senator Sanders and it is 1.4 million more than Donald Trump. And I think you have to look at the facts and the facts are that I'm putting together a very broad based, inclusive coalition from the South to the North, from East to the West."
On the topic of gun control — which has become a major wedge between them — the debate took an even sharper turn.
Sanders chuckled as Clinton was asked about an accusation she’d leveled this week that his own Vermont has the highest per-capita number of guns that end up in New York crimes, and Clinton shot back,“it’s not a laughing matter."
Clinton then hammered again at Sanders’ support for legislation supported by the NRA to limit liability for gun manufacturers, and the moderators asked the senator whether he owed the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre an apology, as the daughter of the school’s principal has said.
"No, I don't think I owe them an apology,” he said when asked a second time. "They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue."
The ninth Democratic debate, a two-hour brawl between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Brooklyn’s historic Navy Yard, really only came down to three minutes.
That was the amount of time it took on Thursday, from 9:15 to 9:18 p.m., for Sanders to try and seemingly fail to make the central case of the sharper-elbowed campaign he’s run ahead of the New York primary: that Clinton’s ties to Wall Street have made and would make her a shill for the billionaire class. On the trail, Sanders raises questions about Clinton’s character and her commitment to the cause of income inequality in connection to paid speeches she’s given to financial firms.
But asked to name one decision by Clinton that shows she favored Wall Street as a result of money she’s received, Sanders struggled to provide an example beyond arguing that the former senator should have moved to break up the big banks.
“Sure, sure. The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street,” said Sanders, “the obvious response to that is that you’ve got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.”
Clinton, he added, “was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000.”
“Well, you can tell, Dana,” Clinton replied, addressing CNN moderator Dana Bash, “he cannot come up with any example, because there is no example.”
“I called them out on their mortgage behavior. I also was very willing to speak out against some of the special privileges they had under the tax code,” Clinton said, adding that she has supported the Dodd-Frank banking bill, “but I have consistently said that’s not enough. We’ve got to include the shadow-banking sector.”
Sanders cut in, but again failed to expand on the suggestion that Clinton would be less aggressive on Wall Street because of money she’s taken from the financial sector.
After the debate, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon argued that the moment had served to undermine “the principal argument that [Sanders] uses to attack her.”
“By now, he’s so deeply invested in this line of attack that you would have thought that he would have been ready to articulate a theory of the case as to how she’s been compromised by donations she received,” said Fallon. “But he whiffed.”
Somebody actually counted the number of times that Bernie Sanders wagged his finger at Hillary Clinton during the debate.
If it feels like Bernie Sanders was wagging his finger at Hillary Clinton by way of trying to interrupt her a little too often during tonight’s debate in New York, you weren’t imagining it. On a night when the two candidates were more angry toward each other than at arguably any other point during the year-long democratic primary contest, Sanders couldn’t seem to keep his finger to himself. One of our Daily News Bin readers kept a live count of Bernie’s finger wags, and the total was stunning.
During the course of a two hour debate, which consisted of perhaps ninety minutes not counting commercial breaks, Bernie Sanders wagged his finger at Hillary Clinton a total of ninety-six times according to our reader Kristy McInnis. That’s an average of more than once per minute. Most of the finger wags were silent, but each seemed to be aimed at getting the moderator to cut off Hillary Clinton while she was speaking – and most of them took place before her time allotment was up.
Clinton has praised the ruling that allows the lawsuit of Sandy Hook families to go forward.
Well, first of all, it’s great to be here in New York, and I am delighted to have this chance to discuss the issues that are important to our future. I was so honored to serve as a senator from New York for eight years, and to work to provide opportunity for all of our citizens to make it possible that we could knock down the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead and staying ahead.
And during those eight years, we faced some difficult challenges together. We faced 9/11. We worked hard to rebuild New York. I was particularly concerned about our first responders and others who’d been affected in their health by what they had experienced. We worked hard to bring jobs from Buffalo to Albany and all parts of New York to give more hard-working people a chance to really make the most out of their own talents.
And we worked hard to really keep New York values at the center of who we are and what we do together.
And that is — that is exactly what I want to do as your president. We will celebrate our diversity. We will work together, bringing us back to being united, setting some big, bold, progressive goals for America. That’s what I’m offering in this campaign, to build on the work, to build on the value that we share here in New York, to take those to Washington, and to knock down those barriers that in any way hold back not only individual Americans, bur our country from reaching our full potential. That is what my campaign is about.
Let us talk about where we are in this race. I’ve gotten more votes than anybody running. 9.6 million at the last count. That is 2.3 million more than Senator Sanders. And it is 1.4 million more than Donald Trump.
I think you have to look at the facts. And, the facts are that I’m putting together a very broad-based, inclusive coalition from the South to the North, from the East to the West, with African-American, Latinos, women, union households, working people and I am very proud of the campaign we are running. It is a campaign that will not only capture the Democratic nomination, but a campaign that will defeat whoever the Republican end up nominating.
And, I want to say — I also want to say that I do — I do think it is absolutely critical and incredible that we have so many young people involved in the political process. I applaud all of those who are applauding you, Senator Sanders. We’re happy that they are supporting you, that they are passionately committed to you and to the issues.
But, let me also say it’s going to be important that we unify the Democratic party when the nomination process has been completed. And, I know something about that because, when I went to the very end of the 2008 campaign with then Senator Obama, we did unify the party, and we did elect a Democratic president.
I think it’s important for people out there watching this tonight to know that I also have a considerable lead in pledged delegates. And my lead in pledged delegates is actually wider than Barack Obama’s lead was over me.
And in addition to winning states in the Deep South, we won Florida, Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri.
And so I think where we stand today is that we are in this campaign very confident and optimistic, but it all comes down to reaching every single voter. I’m not taking anything for granted or any voter or any place.
So I’m going to work my heart out here in New York until the polls close on Tuesday. I’m going to work in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland, all the way through California. And when we end up with the number of delegates we need, we will unite the party and have a unified convention that we’ll go onto the general election with.
Thank you. I am very grateful for the fact that the people of New York gave me the great honor of serving as your senator. You took a chance on me in 2000, and then you re-elected me with one of the biggest margins we’ve had in our state in 2006. During those years, we worked closely together. I tried to have your back, and time and time again, you had mine.
We took on the challenges of 9/11 together. We got the money to rebuild New York. We came to the aid of our brave first responders, construction workers, and others who endangered their own health by helping to save lives and search for survivors.
We worked to create jobs — despite the disastrous policies of George W. Bush — across New York. And we stood up time and time again against all kinds of vested powerful interests.
I’m asking for your support again in the primary on Tuesday to continue that work together, to take what we did in New York and to take those New York values to the White House, and put them to work on behalf of all of our people, to knock down the barriers that stand in the way.
You know, of course we have economic barriers. I’ve been fighting against those trying to even the odds most of my adult life. But we also have racial barriers, gender barriers, homophobic barriers, disability barriers.
We have a lot of barriers that stand in the way of people being treated as they should and having the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.
So I am humbly asking for your support on Tuesday. I’ll work my heart out for you again. And together, we won’t just make promises we can’t keep. We’ll deliver results that will improve the lives of the people in New York and in America.
That’s what we’ll do together. Thank you, New York.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is praising a decision by a Connecticut judge to allow the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre to sue the gun manufacturer.
After Judge Barbara Bellis denied a motion from the gun manufacturers to dismiss a case brought by the families of the Sandy Hook massacre victims, Hillary Clinton said, “Today’s ruling in Connecticut is an important step forward for these families, who are bravely fighting to hold irresponsible gun makers accountable for their actions. They deserve their day in court. Period. Unfortunately, PLCAA – the sweeping immunity law that protects gun manufacturers and dealers – still remains a major obstacle for these families and others seeking to hold these gun companies accountable. That is why, as president, I would lead the charge to repeal this law. Nothing can make these families whole again after losing their children and loved ones in Sandy Hook, but they deserve a president who will fight for them, and I am committed to doing just that.”
One of the oddest arguments being advanced by the Sanders camp — and even the candidate, in las night’s debate — is that Clinton won the south because it is more conservative than the rest of the country.
It’s a nonsensical argument that masks the real reason she won big down south.
Bernie Sanders has a problem with the Democratic primary process.
On Comedy Central's "Nightly Show," the Democratic presidential candidate complained that southern states vote early in the calendar, suggesting it as a reason he trails Hillary Clinton in the primary.
"People say, 'Why does Iowa go first, why does New Hampshire go first,' but I think that having so many Southern states go first kind of distorts reality as well," Sanders told Larry Wilmore after he was asked Wednesday if the primary system is rigged. "We started off this campaign having to run in the Deep South," he said. "We didn't do all that well—it's a conservative part of our country. But since we've been out of the South, we're doing pretty well."
But does Sanders' argument hold up?
Evidence suggests his losses in the South are more clearly traceable to Democratic divides over race, and not the dominant conservative political ideology of the region, a force that has little practical effects on the opposing party's nomination process.
Exit polls show that Sanders lost big among the disproportionate share of black voters in the region, who constituted more than one in five Democrats nationally in 2012. Clinton overwhelmingly won African Americans—by 86 percent in South Carolina, 80 percent in Texas, 85 percent in Georgia, 89 percent in Tennessee, 91 percent in Alabama. (In 2008, Barack Obama, the preferred candidate of the left, won the Deep South by large margins against Clinton.)
Meanwhile, Sanders also lost across ideological groups in each of those states—spanning self-identified "very liberal," "somewhat liberal" and "moderate" Democrats. ("Conservative" Democrats were too small in number to be meaningfully evaluated).
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon called Sanders' argument "strange."
"I don't know what point he's making there," Fallon said Thursday on CNN. "I don't think that the Democratic primary electorate in those quote-unquote 'southern states' is conservative. It's certainly diverse. I don't know if he's making a suggestion about the diversity of those states and their placement on the calendar."
Meanwhile, astute political observers continue to state the obvious about “momentum.”
When pundits talk about momentum, they usually refer to one of two possibilities. The first refers to the winnowing of candidates, as typically happens early in the nominating process. When this occurs, it can appear that the remaining candidates gain "momentum" by virtue of picking up some of the departed candidates' support. There is evidence indicating this type of momentum does occur. However, that's not the type of momentum that pundits are referencing now, more than halfway through the fight for the Democratic nomination. Bernie's recent victories haven't driven anyone from the race.
There is a second type of momentum, however, one more consistent with how the term is being used in the current media narrative. It is the belief that a succession of electoral victories can increase the probability that the winning candidate will do better in subsequent contests simply by virtue of those previous wins. Under this scenario, winning begets more winning – the more wins, the greater the subsequent momentum – and losing has the opposite effect. When pressed to clarify how this type of momentum operates, proponents explain that winning leads to increased campaign contributions and more volunteers – resources that ultimately translate into more votes, and thus more wins. For those making this momentum-as-bandwagon argument, Bernie's current winning streak is clear proof that his momentum is very real – each victory during the last three-and-a-half weeks made it more likely that he would win the next contest. For this reason, Sanders and his supporters believe he is poised to do very well in next Tuesday's New York primary.
There's only one problem with this scenario. There's just not much evidence that momentum of this type exists, at least not in the recent context of Sanders' victories. Instead, the likelier explanation for Sanders' recent success (as I noted in my recent Professor Pundits contribution) is that the Democrats have held a string of contests on terrain that was particularly favorable to Sanders. Demographics, and not momentum, has been the key to his success.
It's no secret that Sanders does best in caucus states dominated by more ideologically motivated participants and in states with low minority populations. As it turns out, six of Sanders' last seven victories came in largely white caucus states. (Hawaii, a caucus state, was a demographic exception.) In fact, 11 of his 15 victories to date have come in caucus states. (He almost gained a 12th victory in the Iowa caucus, where he finished a close second to Clinton.) On the other hand, she has won 16 of the 21 primaries held so far. Indeed, if one constructs a regression equation to explain Sanders' vote share, the two biggest predictors are whether it is a caucus state and whether it had a large proportion of white, liberal voters. By this standard, one might argue he actually underperformed expectations in Wyoming, a largely white, caucus state, where he won "only" about 56 percent of the vote, less than he earned in several similar nearby states. More importantly, he split the 14 Wyoming delegates evenly with Clinton. That's not exactly the "momentum" he needs.
This is not to say that momentum is a completely meaningless concept. There is some evidence that voters' choices in the primaries are influenced in part by perceptions regarding how likely it is that the candidate is going to be elected. If a candidate can clear a certain threshold of perceived electoral viability, her chances of gaining additional votes increase.
But this is precisely where the Sanders' momentum argument works against itself. Because Sanders' recent victories have come predominantly in smaller caucus states and because of the Democratic Party's proportional delegate allocation rules, Sanders' winning streak hasn't substantially cut into Clinton's delegate lead, at least not nearly enough to alter the perception that she remains the clear favorite to win the nomination. Since March 22, when Sanders' current win streak began, he has gained a net of only 70 pledged delegates on Clinton and still trails her by more than 250 pledged delegates. Her lead expands to more than 700 if one includes superdelegates. Moreover, Clinton can more than wipe out Sanders' recent gains with a strong showing in her home state of New York next Tuesday, where there are 247 pledged delegates at stake.
This failure to clear the viability threshold has two unfortunate consequences for Sanders. First, despite his claims to the contrary, his recent victories provide little reason for Clinton's superdelegate supporters to change their minds and back Bernie. Second, to the extent that perceptions of electoral viability matter to prospective voters in upcoming states, it is Clinton and not Sanders who is most likely to benefit. She is the perceived front-runner, and thus she is more likely to gain the support of voters who want to back the race favorite. And those perceptions of viability are not likely to change in the foreseeable future, as the Democratic race returns to terrain, in the form of larger, more demographically diverse primary states, likely more favorable to Clinton, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. On the other hand, and unfortunately for Sanders, only one of the remaining 16 Democratic contests is a caucus state.
Quite a few people seem confused about the current state of the Democratic nomination race. But the essentials are simple: Hillary Clinton has a large lead in both pledged delegates and the popular vote so far. (In Democratic primaries, delegate allocation is roughly proportional to votes.) If you ask how that’s possible — Bernie Sanders just won seven states in a row! — you need to realize that those seven states have a combined population of about 20 million. Meanwhile, Florida alone also has about 20 million people — and Mrs. Clinton won it by a 30-point margin.
To overtake her, Mr. Sanders would have to win the remaining contests by an average 13-point margin, a number that will almost surely go up after the New York primary, even if he does much better than current polls suggest. That’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely.
So the Sanders campaign is arguing that superdelegates — the people, mainly party insiders, not selected through primaries and caucuses who get to serve as delegates under Democratic nomination rules — should give him the nomination even if he loses the popular vote. In case you’re rubbing your eyes: Yes, not long ago many Sanders supporters were fulminating about how Hillary was going to steal the nomination by having superdelegates put her over the top despite losing the primaries. Now the Sanders strategy is to win by doing exactly that.
But how can the campaign make the case that the party should defy the apparent will of its voters? By insisting that many of those voters shouldn’t count. Over the past week, Mr. Sanders has declared that Mrs. Clinton leads only because she has won in the “Deep South,” which is a “pretty conservative part of the country.” The tally so far, he says, “distorts reality” because it contains so many Southern states.
As it happens, this isn’t true — the calendar, which front-loaded some states very favorable to Mr. Sanders, hasn’t been a big factor in the race. Also, swing-state Florida isn’t the Deep South. But never mind. The big problem with this argument should be obvious. Mrs. Clinton didn’t win big in the South on the strength of conservative voters; she won by getting an overwhelming majority of black voters. This puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?
Is it possible that Mr. Sanders doesn’t know this, that he imagines that Mrs. Clinton is riding a wave of support from old-fashioned Confederate-flag-waving Dixiecrats, as opposed to, let’s be blunt, the descendants of slaves? Maybe. He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.
It’s more likely, however, that he’s being deliberately misleading — and that his effort to delegitimize a big part of the Democratic electorate is a cynical ploy.
Remember the pastrami principle: We’re all real Americans. And African-Americans are very definitely real Democrats, deserving respect.
The Weeknotes that Clinton's embrace of the political process is refreshing in its candor:
We don't usually think of Hillary Clinton as a candidate who goes around saying things that are surprisingly candid; she's the most careful of politicians, making up for her lack of improvisational political talent with diligent preparation and cautiousness. But a few days ago, Clinton said something much more radically honest than any of the sewage that spews out of Donald Trump's mouth when he's supposedly "telling it like it is," or even any of Bernie Sanders' critiques of the way our system operates. It was only because it sounded mundane that it was barely noticed.
Speaking to the New York Daily News editorial board, Clinton was asked a question about the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus package, with the questioner saying that much of the money "was divided up politically." Clinton responded, "Well, look. Politics has to play some role in this. Let's not forget we do have to play some role. I got to get it passed through Congress. And I think I'm well-prepared to do that. I was telling you about Buffalo. I got $20 million. Now I got that because it was political. But it worked. And it has created this amazing medical complex."
Clinton may not have thought at that moment that she was speaking an unutterable truth, but she was. When was the last time you heard a politician say that there's something worthwhile about politics?
Most of the time, people who have devoted their lives to politics describe it as something unseemly, repugnant, even vile. They paint themselves as missionaries from the real world, nobly attempting to bring things like "common sense" to the Gomorrah of Washington, D.C., a place they can't stand to set foot in (no matter how hard they're trying to get us to send them there or let them stay). Any process, decision, or motivation involved in the operation of government can be dismissed with a sneer by saying it's "political." Worrying about "politics" is only for my opponents and other selfish, despicable characters; I'm just trying to do the right thing for the American people. The last thing I'd ever want is to become a part of the political system; I'm making the supreme sacrifice of getting elected only so I can "change the way they do business in Washington."
Politico Magazine has a lengthy Clinton profile that, once again, reasserts the divide between how Clinton is portrayed by the media and who she actually is:
That contrast between public and private personas is unusual among recent American leaders. Nixon was awkward and uncomfortable no matter what he did in public life; the campaigner wasn’t far from his character as president. Reagan and Eisenhower were an exception; they had sunny, prepossessing public images, but were said to be aloof in private. Clinton is almost the reverse. Even longtime Clinton confidants, including more than half a dozen interviewed for this story, bemoan that the warm and caring woman they know in person can come off on the stump as someone else entirely.
Axelrod, who has known Clinton since 1992, finds her “very warm and very genuine” in person, a far cry from the sometimes robotic candidate of 2008. As first lady, Clinton helped raise funds for an epilepsy foundation started by Axelrod’s wife, spending hours meeting affected children and speaking with visible emotion about the terror they must feel during seizures. She connected with the children individually, including “my own daughter, who was highly medicated and hard to talk to,” Axelrod recalled. Afterward, Clinton worked hard on a push to find a cure for epilepsy. “That’s who she is,” Axelrod said. “But when she’s running, for whatever reason, there’s not a comfort level in being who she is. She tends to become very tactical and guarded, and it’s hard to connect that way.”
I also have seen the thoughtful and caring side of Clinton firsthand. When my 4-year-old son relapsed with leukemia, I had to take leave from covering the State Department to be in the hospital for his long and difficult treatment. Clinton’s aides must have told her why I wasn’t on the plane, and one day a letter arrived, handwritten on a secretary of state notecard embossed with a gold eagleexpressing her sadness, wishing my son well in his treatment and saying she was keeping us in her prayers. When my son was well enough, he sent a reply: a letter he dictated to me with a picture he made for her. She immediately wrote back and the two began a pen-pal relationship that culminated in an invitation to visit her at the State Department after his immune system was strong enough to go out in public. Before their meeting, she had clearly done her homework, asking aides about my son’s interests. He wanted to talk about endangered animals and protecting the environment. She delighted him with a packet of material from the department’s oceans and environment bureau, and regaled him with stories about seeing polar bears in the Arctic and her work on a climate change treaty. My story isn’t unique: Another journalist told me Clinton made a point of asking with sensitivity about his plans to adopt a child from an Indianorphanage she had visited. A former aide told me Clinton got involved in finding the best doctors for her daughter when she needed special treatment.
“When people say to me she’s stiff and calculating and I say that’s reallynot what she’s like, they look at me like I’m lying,” said James Carville, who was lead strategist for Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign and advised Hillary Clinton in 2008. “I can’t tell you the number of times that I hear that, and I really don’t know how you change it,” he said. It’s the same frustration many Clinton insiders express at the contradiction between the Hillary they know and the one the public perceives.
Keeping America safe is the most solemn responsibility of any President. So when Donald Trump says “we need unpredictability” when it comes to nuclear weapons, when he talks casually about actually using these weapons, and when he says he sees no problem in letting more countries develop nuclear weapons, he’s not just wrong. This kind of loose talk is dangerous.
These may be the most reckless statements on national security by any major presidential candidate in modern history.
Trump’s policies would reverse decades of bipartisan consensus. Even letting friendly nations go nuclear would make it harder for us to prevent rogue regimes from doing the same. Trump would risk unleashing an arms race in places like East Asia and the Middle East, expand the amount of nuclear material in the world and increase the chance of terrorists acquiring some of that material and using it to attack the U.S. As I have said, that’s the single gravest national security threat we face.
Having been senator from New York on 9/11, and having spent many hours in the Situation Room as President Obama’s secretary of state, I know how real the danger is. Terrorists involved withthe recent Brussels attacks were also monitoring a Belgian nuclear scientist and nuclear plant, a chilling warning that ISIS may be pursuing the sabotage of a nuclear site or acquisition of material to make a dirty bomb.
Our next commander-in-chief needs to be ready to take this threat on, not make it worse.
As senator, I introduced the Dirty Bomb Prevention Act, and as secretary of state I worked with the President to persuade countries around the world to reduce or eliminate their stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium, so they wouldn’t be vulnerable to theft or sabotage. We negotiated with Russia to reach a major reduction in nuclear weapons, and I led the effort to put in place the toughest-ever sanctions against Iran, which brought it to the negotiating table and led to the agreement that, if implemented vigorously, is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
As President, I’ll intensify our efforts to safeguard nuclear material and work with our allies to block nuclear proliferation, not expand it. We need to ensure that no terrorist is ever able to threaten our country or our allies with a weapon of mass destruction.
First, we’ll protect nuclear materials and nuclear weapons against theft. The United States has led global efforts to improve nuclear security since the 1990s, but it’s time to step up our game. And we should continue to invest in our own security here at home, employing new technologies and improving coordination between federal, state and local authorities.
Second, we’ll prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials using improved export controls, intelligence sharing and border security systems.
Third, we’ll seek to reduce the amount of nuclear material worldwide. This should include negotiating a global ban on producing additional materials for nuclear weapons, and working with other countries to minimize the use of weapons-grade material for civil nuclear programs.
Finally, we’ll make clear that any nation or group that supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction will be held accountable. We will be prepared to use direct military action if that’s the only way to prevent terrorists from acquiring or using these weapons.
All our efforts must combine U.S. action, stronger international rules and cooperation with allies around the world.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a similarly detailed plan from Trump or any of the other candidates. But at a minimum we should expect anyone running for President to understand the stakes when it comes to nuclear weapons. Our national security is too important to entrust to someone who hasn’t thought long and hard about how to keep us safe.
And remember: Loose cannons tend to misfire. That’s a risk we just can’t take.