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Gwen’s Take: 10 questions every presidential candidate should know how to answer

There is nothing like a genuine crisis to put a political election in context.

I do not have the answers, but the shocking Paris attacks have certainly given voters a reasonable list of questions to ask the 17 presidential candidates still eligible to return to debate stages in December.

As you begin to focus on who deserves your vote, this provides as good a guide as any to decide where candidates stand, and if you agree with them.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Any candidate should have a cogent response to these 10 questions. And if they don’t, you are the only one who gets to decide if that matters.

    1.What does “boots on the ground” mean to you?
    2.How vulnerable are we, and what should we do about it?
    3.How should we prioritize our resources? Please provide budget numbers.
    4. Iran, Russia and Syria: Do they have a place at the table as we battle terrorism? If not, what do you propose instead?
    5. Should religious tests be applied as a determinant of risk?
    6. Is the United Nations useful or useless at a time like this?
    7. How hard should our borders be? At what cost?
    8. What constitutes effective vetting for people seeking to enter the U.S.?
    9. Should the U.S. lead, collaborate or step away from conflicts rooted in the Middle East?
    10. Should we close Guantanamo and fully exit Afghanistan and Iraq?

​These are the types of questions that seldom get answered absent a time of crisis. Ordinarily, candidates would much rather talk about the economy, middle class values and domestic concerns.

But this is no ordinary time. And 2016 will be no ordinary election. The lasting ripple effect from Paris will affect homeland security, but also will provide us an opportunity to see, clearly, what leadership really means.

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