GOP Debate: Iran, Israel Mentioned More Times Than All Other Countries Combined
The Iran deal and the U.S. commitment to its ally, Israel, were by far the linchpin foreign policy issues at Wednesday night’s Republican debate in California — with the Islamic Republic and the Jewish state mentioned more than all the other countries cited by GOP presidential hopefuls grilled by CNN, the host of the event.
According to an NPR roundup of the debate, which pitted 11 candidates against one another at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Iran and Israel were mentioned 32 times by candidates and moderators.
Given the fierce GOP opposition to the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, it is not surprising that Iran was an overwhelming focus, being mentioned approximately 25 times. Some candidates have vowed to scrap the deal altogether, while Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to jump-start several pieces of legislation aimed at punishing Iran for holding four U.S. citizens and threatening Israel with destruction. Israel was mentioned 12 times.
NPR noted that much of the focus on Israel came from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who was forced to defend his backtracking on previous statements, calling for slashing U.S. foreign aid to the Jewish state, which has increased under President Obama.
As defense issues dominated the foreign policy debate, the U.S.’s big adversaries in China and Russia also nabbed much of the night’s spotlight. Although Iran was mentioned four times more than China, Russia was brought up some nine times.
Despite Republican candidates’ squabbling over immigration reform, Mexico was only mentioned four times over the course of the three-hour debate, and most of those references came from Donald Trump, who has made stringent immigration reform an integral part of his campaign.