By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) –  It wasn’t high on the presidential campaign radar early on. But in the wake of the horror in Paris and San Bernardino, the terror threat jumped to the top of the list. And Donald Trump pounced.

His December call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” drew bi-partisan condemnation. Among his GOP competitors, John Kasich called it “outrageous,” Marco Rubio termed it “offensive,” and Ted Cruz dismissed it as “not my policy.”

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Lo and behold, Trump’s poll numbers soared.

But to Professor Max Abrahms of Northeastern University, a terrorism expert and an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations, that sort of Muslim-bashing “is the surest way, ironically, to radicalize them. I’m very worried that Trump’s rhetoric which is, in a sense, anti-Muslim, will be counter-productive by basically radicalizing our Muslim allies at home.”

A group of Muslims attend a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York. (Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of Muslims attend a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York. (Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

But as political analyst Joe Mathieu of WBZ NewsRadio 1030 notes: “Fear is the ultimate motivator in politics. In this race, there’s no such thing as too tough on terror. Look how it’s helped Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, even if they don’t have the experience to face terrorism, they have the right attitude to do it.”

Indeed, while Clinton denounced Trump’s shutdown plan, saying “we cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations,” she has also acknowledged that “we do need to be vigilant in screening and vetting any refugees from Syria.”

And Prof. Abrahms says that concern has some validity.

“There’s a high likelihood that some of these people will in fact have blood on their hands,” he says.

But: “The last thing we want to do for counter-terrorism is make the American-Muslim community feel as if they’re being discriminated against.”

JON KELLER’S ANALYSIS:

Homeland security in the face of the global terror threat is clearly a hot-button issue in this campaign nationally, and Massachusetts is no exception.

In the new WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll, 72% of voters said they were very (29%) or somewhat (43%) worried about another attack; only 26% were “not too worried.”

With the exception of Sanders, who at times seems to view the war on terror as a military/industrial complex distraction, all the major candidates are vowing to get tougher on ISIS and beef up the military.

The differences really come down to tone and emphasis, with Clinton appealing for sympathy for American Muslims and Trump’s GOP critics scolding him for coming on too strong.

But we should all heed Joe Mathieu’s warning about the politics of terror; just ask John Kerry what fear can do to a “nuanced” argument. And let’s never forget the campaign havoc that could be wreaked by – God forbid – another terror attack on the homeland.

Read: On The Issues Articles

IN DEPTH: CANDIDATES’ POSITIONS

HILLARY CLINTON

“Hillary’s framework of American leadership includes: Establishing a strong foundation. Our economy provides the foundation for our leadership, our diplomatic influence, and our military might. We succeed when we invest in our people, our infrastructure, and our technological edge. As secretary of state, Hillary went to bat for American companies and workers around the world, helping open markets and boost exports that created jobs back home.
Keeping our homeland secure. As secretary of state, Hillary expanded global anti-terrorism cooperation and helped step up our efforts to go after terrorist recruitment, propaganda, and safe havens. As president, she’ll keep America safe and strong, while upholding our core values and principles.
Making sure that our military is on the cutting edge. As a senator, Hillary was a champion for our men and women in uniform as a member of the Armed Services Committee. As president, she’ll ensure the United States maintains the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military the world has ever known. America must also respond to the new challenges our veterans and military families face, providing them with the support they have earned and deserve.
Following a vision for America that is centered on our core ideals. Hillary will continue her long-standing emphasis on gender equality and human rights, including the rights of LGBT individuals around the globe, and standing up for an open Internet to ensure that all people have equal access to information and ideas.

Hillary understands the importance of leading for the long term. We can’t stop the world from changing, but we can help to shape those changes. If America is smart, our advantages position us to meet new challenges and emerge safer and more prosperous. Smart, long-term leadership means:
Never allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. America and our allies, especially Israel, will be safer if we vigorously enforce the nuclear agreement with Iran and implement a broader strategy to confront Iran’s bad behavior in the region.
Defeating ISIS. ISIS and the foreign terrorist fighters it recruits pose a serious threat to America and our allies. We will confront and defeat them in a way that builds greater stability across the region, without miring our troops in another misguided ground war. Hillary will empower our partners to defeat terrorism and the ideologies that drive it, including through our ongoing partnership to build Iraqi military and governing capacity, our commitment to Afghanistan’s democracy and security, and by supporting efforts to restore stability to Libya and Yemen.
Holding China accountable. As secretary of state, Hillary reasserted America’s role as a Pacific power and called out China’s aggressive actions in the region. As president, she’ll work with friends and allies to promote strong rules of the road and institutions in Asia, and encourage China to be a responsible stakeholder—including on cyberspace, human rights, trade, territorial disputes, and climate change—and hold it accountable if it does not.
Standing up to Putin. Hillary has gone toe-to-toe with Putin before, and she’ll do it again. She’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies and help them decrease dependence on Russian oil. With our partners, Hillary will confine, contain, and deter Russian aggressions in Europe and beyond, and increase the costs to Putin for his actions.
In order to succeed, America must strengthen our current partnerships, and work to build new ones. In an interconnected world, people are hungry to partner with America, and many share our vision for the future. Hillary will strengthen our alliances and nurture new relationships across the globe. In order to ensure that America maintains successful global partnerships, she will:
Strengthen alliances. From the Middle East and Asia to Europe and our own hemisphere, Hillary will strengthen the essential partnerships that are a unique source of America’s strength. That’s particularly true of Israel, which is why Hillary will continue to support Israel’s ability to defend itself, including with Iron Dome and other defense systems. If anyone challenges Israel’s security, they challenge America’s security.
Create partnerships for tomorrow. Hillary believes in free peoples and free markets. As president, she’ll invest in partnerships in Latin America, Africa, and Asia with people and nations who share our values and vision for the future.
Engage civil society. America has the opportunity to resolve familiar conflicts and nurture new democracies; to empower moderates and marginalize extremists; and to open markets and champion human rights. From engaging students and civil leaders to broadening our development partnerships to involve our businesses, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, Hillary knows that America’s greatest assets are our diverse citizens and the vision of fairness and openness we offer the world.

Source: hillaryclinton.com

BERNIE SANDERS

“We live in a difficult and dangerous world, and there are no easy or magical solutions. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will defend this nation, its people, and America’s vital strategic interests, but I will do it responsibly. America must defend freedom at home and abroad, but we must seek diplomatic solutions before resorting to military action. While force must always be an option, war must be a last resort, not the first option.
As a member of Congress, I have supported the use of force only when it was a last resort and America’s vital interests were at stake. I opposed the first Gulf War, as did many other Members of Congress, because I believed that there was a way to achieve our goals without bloodshed, through sanctions and concerted diplomatic action. I supported the use of force to stop the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. And, in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, I supported the use of force in Afghanistan to hunt down the terrorists who attacked us. I regret that President Bush did not use that authority properly, and that American combat troops remained there too long. I voted against the war in Iraq, and knew it was the right vote then, and most people recognize it was the right vote today. The only mission President Bush and his neo-conservative friends accomplished was to destabilize an entire region, and create the environment for al-Qaeda and ISIS to flourish.
While we must be relentless in combating terrorists who would do us harm, we cannot and should not be policeman of the world, nor bear the burden of fighting terrorism alone. The United States should be part of an international coalition, led and sustained by nations in the region that have the means to protect themselves. That is the only way to defeat ISIS and to begin the process of creating the conditions for a lasting peace in the region.”

Source: berniesanders.com

BEN CARSON

My plan for defeating the Islamic State and eliminating the threat from radical Islamic terrorists rests on the following principles: focusing the national will, engaging the threat at its source and protecting the American way of life.

FOCUSING THE NATIONAL WILL

I will focus the national will on fighting against radical Islamic terrorists. I will seek a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress to unleash the resources of the federal government and to signal to friends and foes that the American people are united in this fight.Under a Carson administration, the United States will reassert its strategic leadership in the world and rally all civilized nations — including an expanded coalition consisting of moderate Arab states and newly formed regional forces comprised of Sunni Syrian and other men displaced by war — to join the fight against the terrorists’ barbarism.

ENGAGING THE THREAT AT ITS SOURCE

Just as the United States opposed the spread of Communism in every form and in every place, it must now oppose the spread of the terrorists’ supremacist, totalitarian and radical Islamism whenever and wherever it arises. We must impose tough sanctions on countries, organizations and individuals that commit terrorist acts or provide material or moral support to radical jihad, and we must be prepared to engage in economic warfare against those countries that propagate terrorism. We will wage information campaigns to persuade countries and individuals to choose freedom, tolerance and modernity. We will engage Muslim leaders at home and abroad with a message that they must choose between radical jihad and peaceful coexistence. We will study the jihadists’ ideology and anticipate their next move.
Additionally, I will block the Islamic State’s moves into North Africa through the unstable state of Libya. At the moment, an Islamic State affiliate has taken control of parts of the country and has established a Libyan enclave of the caliphate. We cannot allow this enclave to unite with its fellow terrorists in Iraq and Syria. An Islamic State stronghold in the Maghreb would not only prey upon vulnerable African nations, it would provide yet another gateway for terrorism into southern Europe, and eventually into America. I will put a stop to such terrorist expansion.

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Source: bencarson.com

TED CRUZ

“The United States of America is the exceptional nation, the nation other countries aspire to be like. We should stand as a shining beacon of what free people enjoying a free market and system of government can achieve. But while our intentions towards the rest of the world are peaceful, that does not mean we have no enemies, and the fact of the matter is our enemies are on the march.
Two terms of the disastrous Obama-Clinton foreign policy have had one useful effect: we now know what the world starts to look like without America. The next president will have to start on day one rebuilding what they have tried to tear down. A truly conservative foreign policy would have three simple principles:
To preserve our country we need to exert leadership on the global stage, not withdraw from it.
We need to fiercely defend our allies and interests.
And we need to judge each challenge through the simple test of what is best for America. Because what is best for America is best for the world.
In order to restore America’s safety and security, we must rebuild our military. If you think defending the country is expensive, try not defending it. We must rebuild our military in a way that will secure our children without bankrupting them.
ISIS seeks to destroy our very way of life. We must defeat them. That starts by calling the enemy by its name – radical Islamic terrorism – and securing the border. Border security is national security.
We cannot recede from our leadership in the world. If we withdraw from the Middle East, the radical jihadists will not be content to stay there—they are going to attack our allies in the region and beyond. And they are on the lookout for every opportunity to attack us here at home.
On day one, a President Cruz will immediately repeal every word of President Obama’s dangerous Iran deal and will prioritize American national security interests in every instance.”

Source: tedcruz.org

JOHN KASICH

“The November 13, 2015 attacks on Paris illuminated the enormous chasm between the worldview of civilized people and the worldview of the terrorists who committed these acts of terror. There is no negotiating with this kind of darkness—we must overcome it. Unless we get serious about defeating the evil we witnessed in Paris, we leave the door open to similar attacks in our own cities.
Gov. Kasich has proposed a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS, strengthen our military, and work with our allies to confront ongoing threats to our mutual security. Bullets may win battles, but ideas win wars. It is not enough to defeat terrorists and stand-down regional bullies. We must reassert our Western values of democracy, human rights, and individual freedom if we hope to secure the long-term stability of America and preserve our way of life.
Defeat ISIS: Wiping ISIS off the map requires a complex, collaborative strategy involving mutual defense action by NATO—as well as regional allies—in the wake of the attack on France, intensifying international intelligence cooperation, increasing support to the highly-effective Kurdish military, creating safe havens and no-fly zones, combating human trafficking in refugees, a NATO & regional coalition with ground troops, and more aggressively fighting the war of ideas to discredit ISIS.

CHALLENGE REGIONAL AGGRESSION: America’s unwillingness to lead in the fight against terrorism has wrongly signaled to opponents with expansionist agendas, such as Russia and China, that belligerent actions will be tolerated. U.S. must reassert its strength to reverse these losses in leadership and security.
Stand Up to Russia:
The U.S. must work together with our European allies to strengthen new NATO member states on the front lines with Russia, such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, by supplying them, repositioning existing U.S. forces onto their eastern borders supported by a new, strong integrated air defense system there, and jointly committing to higher defense spending targets. We must also help ensure a free Ukraine by training and arming Ukrainian forces with the weapons they have requested and which Congress has approved.
Counter China:
In order to stand by our allies who feel threatened by China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, the U.S. must work with regional allies to significantly increase our military presence in region and ensure freedom of navigation for the $5.3 trillion in annual trade that passes through the Western Pacific. We must help Japan defend its territorial waters with advanced seabed acoustic sensors, anti-ship missiles and other defensive equipment. We must also forward deploy our Pacific combat commander to Guam and station additional Air Force and Marines Corps units in the Western Pacific where they can conduct regular joint regional amphibious landing exercises.

RENEW OUR MILITARY: As America’s commitment to security leadership has withered, our military has been neglected. John Kasich has called for $102 billion in increased defense spending over the next eight years to improve our conventional capabilities and create new cyber defense resources to better safeguard our security.

IT STARTS WITH THE ECONOMY: Military strength requires economic strength, and Gov. Kasich has crafted a realistic plan to revive the economy by cutting taxes, balancing the budget in eight years, and cutting regulations that kills jobs.

REBUILD THE U.S. MILITARY FROM THE GROUND UP: We must rebuild our defenses while leveraging the strengths of our allies in order to effectively challenge the capabilities of our enemies. We can ensure that scarce resources reach the troops who need them most by streamlining Pentagon bureaucracy and transforming procurement processes to get new weapons systems into the field on time and on budget.”

Source: johnkasich.com

MARCO RUBIO

“The chaos in Iraq and Syria over the last several years has allowed the terrorist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, to become a threat of global proportions, with the capacity to inspire and carry out attacks here in the United States.
The December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, where the attackers were reportedly inspired by ISIS, demonstrates how quickly this threat has come to our shores. Meanwhile, overseas, ISIS has dealt untold suffering and cruelty to millions of innocents in Iraq and Syria, especially religious minorities. ISIS is now spreading its influence across the Middle East: in Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Most worryingly, the attacks in Paris and the airliner bombing in November 2015 proved that ISIS has the ambitions and capabilities to execute large-scale attacks against the West and harm Americans here at home.
President Obama’s proposals to fight ISIS, after his own disengagement from the Middle East allowed the group to rise in the first place, have been woefully insufficient. America cannot afford to let a transnational threat like ISIS survive, hold territory, and grow. Containment will not work.
Instead, the U.S. needs to take the lead on a strategy, in conjunction with our local allies, that will destroy ISIS and deprive it and other terror groups of safe havens. This will require a larger number of American troops on the ground, working with the Kurds, Sunni tribes, and other partners. If America does not make this our fight, the West will not win it.
The conflict is not just about ISIS, either: ISIS is only the most prominent manifestation of radical Islam, an ideology bent on destroying the West and eradicating its values. In this clash of civilizations, either we win, or they win.
As Senator, Marco has repeatedly highlighted the threat that ISIS presents and called for greater efforts to defeat it. As President, Marco will set out to destroy ISIS, not hope it disappears or collapses of its own volition. He will:
Confront ISIS in Iraq and Syria: That means establishing a coordinated political-military strategy against ISIS in tandem with Sunni Arab and local partners in the region.

On the military front, Marco will:

* Build a multinational coalition of countries willing to send troops into Iraq and Syria with embedded U.S. forces and U.S. logistical and intelligence support to aid local fighters on the ground in destroying ISIS safe havens;
* Expand airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, deploying forward air controllers to call in air support;
* Develop a plan to oust Bashar al-Assad from power, including ramping up training of Syrian rebels to fight both Assad and ISIS and to establish safe zones within Syria;
* Provide arms directly to Sunni tribal and Kurdish forces if Baghdad fails to support them.
On the political front:
• Counter ISIS recruitment and propaganda by broadcasting U.S. victories, showing the world that ISIS is not invincible;
• Work with Baghdad to increase Sunni inclusion and autonomy for the provinces;
• Push back against Iranian influence in Iraq, which only stokes further conflict;
• Coordinate with regional allies to plan for Assad’s fall;
• Advocate on behalf of and protect ethnic and religious minorities throughout the region.
Protect the Homeland
• Work with regional partners to prevent foreign jihadists from traveling between their homes and the battlefields;
• Strengthen U.S. intelligence capabilities to ensure that the U.S. government has the capabilities to track terrorists plotting attacks inside the United States;
• Boost domestic efforts to detect potential “lone wolf” attackers;
• Increase efforts to counter ISIS propaganda and recruitment of individuals inside the United States;
• Halt new admissions of refugees from Iraq and Syria, until they can be vetted effectively enough to filter out terrorist infiltrators.
• Enhance the security screening required of travelers coming to the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program.”

Source: marcorubio.com

DONALD TRUMP

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.
Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump.”

Trump campaign press release, 12/7/2015

“Donald Trump says Americans are being too politically correct about Muslims and should drop their fears of profiling.

“If they thought there was something wrong with that group and they saw what was happening, and they didn’t want to call the police because they didn’t want to be profiling, I think that’s pretty bad,” the Republican presidential front-runner said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“People are dead. A lot of people are dead right now,” Trump said. “So everybody wants to be politically correct, and that’s part of the problem that we have with our country….”

Trump also argued that the families of terrorists and suspects should face more scrutiny. He said that the wives of the September 11, 2001, attackers “knew exactly what was happening.”

He said he doesn’t believe the sister of Syed Rizwan Farook, who law enforcement officials have identified as one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, California, killings last week, had no idea what her brother planned and was saddened.

“I probably don’t believe the sister,” Trump said.

CBS anchor John Dickerson asked: “So you’d go after her?”

“I would go after a lot of people and I’d find out whether or not they knew. I’d be able to find out. Because I don’t believe the sister,” Trump said.

Dickerson asked whether Trump worries that he’d go too far and take actions that inspire more terrorists.

“What’s too far? What’s too far? They’re killing people,” Trump said. “Whether it’s what we just saw in California or in Paris. They’re killing people, innocent people.” Trump said he wants vigilance, “whether it’s mosques or whatever it has to be,” repeating his argument that some mosques should be monitored.

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Source: CNN.com

Jon Keller