Hillary backs Obama’s IS strategy
US Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton backed elements of President Barack Obama’s strategy to fight Islamic State militants in a debate on Saturday in which she clashed with top rival Bernie Sanders over national security and the economy.
Hillary came under fire from Republicans even before the debate was over for optimistically saying “we now finally are where we need to be” in Syria, and was criticised by Sanders for being too quick to push for regime change.
The debate was the Democrats’ first since the deadly December 2 attack by a pair of radicalised Muslims in San Bernardino, California, which along with the November attacks in Paris elevated national security to the top of the campaign agenda.
Republicans have criticised Obama’s handling of Islamic State and have sought to link the former secretary of state to what they say is a failed strategy.
Obama has relied heavily on US air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, and ordered the deployment of dozens of special operations troops to northern Syria to advise opposition forces in their fight against Islamic State. In Iraq, about 3,500 US troops are advising and assisting Iraqi forces.
Clinton agrees with Obama on the need to use Special Forces and trainers but, like the president, she has said a large deployment of US ground forces in the Middle East would be counterproductive. “We now finally are where we need to be. We have a strategy and a commitment to go after ISIS,” she said, noting a UNSecurity Council resolution had brought “the world together to go after a political transition in Syria.”
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush quickly responded to Hillary on Twitter. “No, Hillary Clinton, we are not ‘where we need to be’ in fight against Islamic State.”
Sanders also attacked Hillary for what he described as her support for regime change in Syria, saying the United States should prioritize the fight against Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, over working to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
“Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be,” said Sanders, a US senator from Vermont. “Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS.” Hillary countered that Washington could pursue both goals in tandem. — Reuters
Dynamic of race unchanged
With just six weeks left until Iowa kicks off the Democratic nominating contest on February 1, the debate appeared to do little to change the trajectory of the 2016 Democratic presidential race for the White House
Hillary holds a big lead in national polls over Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who are both still searching for breakthrough moments that could shift the dynamic.
Hillary also vowed not to raise taxes on middle-class Americans if elected next November, questioning the affordability of some of Sanders’ proposals such as creation of a single-payer healthcare system and tuition-free college
Sanders apologises to Hillary for data breach
Democratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders apologised to his rival Hillary Clinton for inadvertently breaching into her election database to access information about her voters
“Yes, I apologise,” Sanders said replying to a question after he acknowledged that his election campaign “by mistake” intruded into the election data base of Hillary Clinton.
‘Trump becoming Islamic State’s best recruiter’
Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump’s recent comments about banning Muslim immigrants, saying the Republican front-runner was “becoming Islamic State’s best recruiter”
“He is becoming Islamic State’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists,” she said.
“I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the US and literally around the world that there is some kind of Western plot or even ‘war against Islam,” she alleged