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December 16, 2015

Republican candidates clash over national security in fifth debate

Nine Republican presidential candidates met Tuesday night in Las Vegas to debate how to keep the country secure in the wake of recent terror attacks in the United States and throughout the world.

The debate was the fifth time Republicans have met on a national stage to discuss issues of national and international importance. Only one more Republican debate remains before the first presidential primary is held in Iowa in February.

Donald Trump defended his controversial statement calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.

“We’re not talking about isolation, we’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion, we’re talking about security,” Trump said.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush disagreed with Trump on the subject, continuing their sparring from previous debates.

“He’s a chaos candidate, and he’d be a chaos president,” Bush said.

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz battled with one another over their differing Senate vote on whether or not the U.S. should reauthorize the Defense Authorization Act which funds the troops in the Middle East. Rubio favors passage of the bill while Cruz has voted against it.

Another key topic of the debate involved the U.S.’s role in Syria and whether or not candidates would keep Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power if they were president. Cruz and Trump believe U.S. security interests would be further hurt if Assad were toppled, but former Ohio Governor John Kasich disagreed.

“I do not want to be policeman of the world, but we can’t back off of this. Assad must go,” Kasich said.

While the candidates disagreed over how they would handle national security issues, nearly all of the candidates placed the U.S.’s perceived weakening internationally on the Obama Administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic frontrunner.

The three Democratic Party candidates will have their turn to respond to how they would lead the U.S. on foreign policy issues during their debate Saturday, Dec. 19.

See a fact-check of what the candidates said during Tuesday’s debate here.


Vocab

Defense Authorization Act — a federal law specifying the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense

frontrunner — the contestant that is leading in a race or other competition

Warm up questions
  1. What is the purpose of a presidential debate?
  2. When will the Republican candidate for president be decided?
  3. What is the job of voters when it comes to following an election?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why do media organizations typically fact-check what candidates are saying during a debate?
  2. Why did Jeb Bush call Donald Trump a “chaos candidate”? What does that say about Trump’s campaign?
  3. Why does the instability created by the civil war in Syria matter to the United States?
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