FNC Post-Debate Panel Blast Dems for Omitting National Security in First 100 Days Question

In contrast to the other post-Democratic debate analyses on Sunday night, the guests assembled on the Fox News Channel (FNC) repeatedly ripped the three presidential candidates for failing to mention national security or foreign policy in the debates’s first question from NBC co-moderator Lester Holt on what three things they would do in their first 100 days in office. 

Weekly Standard senior writer and Fox News contributor Steve Hayes dropped the first reference, telling fellow panelists and host Shannon Bream that he “was struck in particular by the very first question which was this open ended question that Lester Holt lobbed to all three candidates” and how “none of them mentioned national security.”

After Bream concurred with that observation, Hayes opined that by not mentioning an issue that tops or hovers near the top of topics that most concerns voters, “we could end the debate right now and that tells us, in a certain respect, all we need to know about the contrast.” 

“I mean, every Republican candidate would not only have mentioned the national security issue, but probably would have mentioned several national security issues, so I thought that was a pretty striking contrast from the get go,” Hayes concluded. 

The Hill columnist A.B. Stoddard briefly raised this concern in the next segment, noting how it wasn’t just Republicans that noticed the foreign policy omission in the first 100 days question as well as the lack of questions on this issue until over an hour into the debate: “[I]t wasn't only Republicans wondering it took until 10:15 from foreign policy to come up with the debate and I too noted that no one mentioned it in their first 100 days agenda. I thought that was a little strange.”

Tell the Truth 2016

As he did following the third Democratic debate back on December 19, long shot candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley went on FNC’s post-debate program and on this occasion, Bream fired off this question concerning what would be his chief concerns in his 100 days:

Tonight, there was a lot of back and forth about guns, about healthcare and there was a question up front about what each of you tackle — your top three priorities in your first 100 days of your presidency and our panel has been discussing, are curious and we can ask you as one of the candidates, how come there was no mention of foreign policy, of ISIS, of the threat that voting and polls continue to show us that's at the top of the worries list for voters. Why wasn't that in your top three? 

O’Malley responded that he and his two fellow candidates “believe[d] the questions was framed in terms of [domestic] initiatives” and went onto rehash his answer from the debate of raising wages, discussion of “a new agenda for American cities to employ our people” and the so-called economic benefits of climate change with alternative fuels.

The relevant portions of the transcript from FNC’s post-Democratic debate coverage on January 17 can be found below.

FNC’s America Election HQ
January 17, 2016
11:13 p.m. Eastern

STEVE HAYES: But I was struck in particular by the very first question which was this open ended question that Lester Holt lobbed to all three candidates and what are your top three priorities? What are you going to do? And none of them mentioned national security. 

SHANNON BREAM: Yeah, nothing about foreign policy. 

HAYES: Any national security issue at all and I thought, we could end the debate right now and that tells us, in a certain respect, all we need to know about the contrast. I mean, every Republican candidate would not only have mentioned the national security issue, but probably would have mentioned several national security issues, so I thought that was a pretty striking contrast from the get go.

(....)

11:21 p.m. Eastern

A.B. STODDARD: Well, when he actually quoted King Abdullah of Jordan, that was when he was most cogent. Bernie went a little off the rails in the foreign policy section and Steve — I mean, it wasn't only Republicans wondering it took until 10:15 from foreign policy to come up with the debate and I too noted that no one mentioned it in their first 100 days agenda. I thought that was a little strange. 

(....)

11:27 p.m. Eastern

BREAM: I got to ask you. Tonight, there was a lot of back and forth about guns, about healthcare and there was a question up front about what each of you tackle — your top three priorities in your first 100 days of your presidency and our panel has been discussing, are curious and we can ask you as one of the candidates, how come there was no mention of foreign policy, of ISIS, of the threat that voting and polls continue to show us that's at the top of the worries list for voters. Why wasn't that in your top three? 

MARTIN O’MALLEY: Yeah, the top three I believe the questions was framed in terms of initiatives and so, I believe we need to get wages go up. I believe we need that we need to have a new agenda for American cities to employ our people and I believe that we need to recognize that climate change is the greatest business opportunity to come to us in 100 years. All of those are the things that make us strong at home that allow us to fund foreign policy of a better national security strategy. Look, I am glad to go hoe to toe to answer homeland security and preparedness with anyone. I’m better prepared than any of the candidates on terms of combating lone wolfs here in the home land in terms of fusion centers and protection of our critical infrastructure and everyday, the first job of the commander-in-chief is to protect the people of the United States. I know that. I have been a governor. I’ve been a mayors. Governors have led us to victory in two World Wars, so I was glad to talk about those questions as well. I believe the call of the question, at least as all of us heard it on the stage was about domestic initiatives. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center