from The Water's Edge

Campaign 2016 Weekly Foreign Policy Roundup: Taking the Back Seat

Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson at the Republican presidential debate on October 28, 2015. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

October 30, 2015

Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson at the Republican presidential debate on October 28, 2015. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)
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Foreign policy continues to take a back seat on the campaign trail. Republican candidates debated on Wednesday night, but they said little about turmoil in the Middle East, the rise of China, or the threat of a newly belligerent Russia. That’s not surprising given that CNBC, which hosted the event, billed it as the “definitive presidential debate on the economy.”

What was surprising is that the debate moderators didn’t ask a single question about trade. It has some significance, after all, for both the U.S. economy and voters. Trade accounts for nearly a third of U.S. GDP, and by some estimates as many as one-in-five U.S. jobs depend on trade. The United States and eleven other countries announced earlier this month that they have reached a deal to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the text of which is likely to be made public in the next few weeks.

The moderators also didn’t ask about the American energy revolution, which has profound implications not only for geopolitics but also for the American economy. Nor did they ask about the bid to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which finally overcame House opposition this week but still faces some tough sledding in the Senate.

Well, at least the debate moderators asked where the GOP candidates stood on fantasy football.

Looking Ahead

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow will moderate a Democratic forum on November 6, one week from today. It will not be a debate, but rather individual interviews with the three remaining Democratic candidates. Donald Trump is still scheduled to host SNL next Saturday night (though many of his critics want NBC to reconsider). Republicans regroup for their next debate on November 10. The next official Democratic debate will come four days later. We are 94 days away from the first nominating event, the Iowa caucuses, which I have had the pleasure to vote in. We have 377 days to go before Election Day.

In Case You Missed It

Time and the New York Times have posted the full transcripts of the 6 p.m. and the 8 p.m. Republican debates for those of us who couldn’t watch the debates live and forgot to DVR them. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy argues that GOP presidential candidates have strong incentives to avoid discussing the substance of policy. A new CFR video explains how immigration policy plays into the electionForeign Policy’s Dan De Luce argues "Democrats Aren’t on Board with Hillary’s No-Fly-Zone Plan." The National Journal shows where the candidates stand on six critical issues, including immigration, climate change, and the Iran deal. In the trade world, rumor has it that “Indonesia Will Join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” Meanwhile, some Democrats are saying this trade pact is for the dogs.

Elise Ghattas and Christina Almonte assisted in the preparation of this post.

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