ISIS and national security have dominated last night’s presidential debate with Democratic candidates in Iowa.
The Democratic presidential hopefuls have clashed over how to deal with the militant group, in the wake of deadly terror attacks in Paris.
Hillary Clinton said “it cannot be an American fight” and called on Turkey and the Gulf states to do more.
However, rival Martin O’Malley disagreed and said the US had to “stand up to evil” and lead from the front.
The attacks killed 129 people and injured hundreds in the French capital.
Hours after the near-simultaneous attacks on November 13, CBS News vowed to shift the focus of the debate to put more emphasis on counter-terrorism and foreign policy.
A moment’s silence was observed in Des Moines before the debate began, and the three candidates expressed their condolences to the French people.
Then they clashed over the rise of ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the atrocities.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was challenged by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for backing the Iraq War, which he says led to the rise of the militants.
She disagreed, saying US foreign policy did not have the “bulk of responsibility” for the instability in the region, pointing instead to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s former leader, Nouri al-Malaki.
ISIS cannot be contained, it must be defeated, Hillary Clinton said, but she and the other candidates did not spell out how far they would go.
The US has been part of a coalition of countries taking part in air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but some of the Republican presidential candidates have called for the deployment of US ground forces.
In other debate highlights, Martin O’Malley attacked “immigrant bashing” Republican Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on Mexico border. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley repeated calls on US to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees. Hillary Clinton backed a minimum wage of $12/hour, but Bernie Sanders wants $15/hour. Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton for taking campaign donations from Wall Street to which she replied that she supported New York City’s financial sector to help it recover from the 9/11 attacks. Bernie Sanders said he will make public college tuition free, paid for by raising taxes.
This primetime showdown was the party’s second debate of the election campaign, two fewer than the Republicans, who have a much wider field.
In 79 days, Iowa will be the first state to pick a presidential candidate from each party.
Voters across the US will go to the polls finally in November 2016 to choose the new occupant of the White House.