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Terrorism a No. 1 issue for elections

By Steve Vassallo

According to a recent Gallup Survey, 16 percent of all Americans now say that terrorism is the No. 1 problem confronting the United States. This is the highest number since 2005.

However, among Democrats this number is just 9 percent, drawing a sharp distinction with Republican voters. Today we will explore the key differences between the current two front-runners in the area of terrorism.

Donald J. Trump’s polling numbers increased more than any other GOP candidate following the November Paris attacks. Trump is perceived to be the strongest in dealing with terror. Among his lead platform planks include applying torture to terrorists and in particular waterboarding; increased surveillance of suspected cell areas within the U.S.; a temporary halt to Muslims entering the United States; and less restrictive gun regulations in public areas.

Trump also supports the increased use of the American military in stamping out ISIS and applying whatever force is required.

Hillary Clinton’s approach in confronting terror differs considerably. She believes that no one should resort to torture — it is her philosophy that it doesn’t work. She is a strict proponent of more gun controls and increasing the rules and regulations for gun ownership.

She opposes placing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States as she states this will create more tensions within the Arab world. As to destroying ISIS, she wants to empower our allies in the Middle East in order to defeat terrorism.

Clinton has also taken a proactive position in supporting efforts to restore stability to both Libya and Yemen, two nations that have witnessed growing ranks of terrorists and their surrogates. Her solution to eradicating ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan is to train and equip government forces already in place with a limited U.S. military presence.

On the other hand, Trump has stated repeatedly that he will rely on the experience and recommendations of the Pentagon in addressing this international menace. He has added that U.S. allies in the region must commit more ground troops in assisting the U.S. to eliminate the threat. He is also in favor of NATO members assuming a more aggressive role with the United States’ financial contributions declining.

Radical Islamic Terrorists is a term that Republicans often use in describing this enemy.

To the contrary, the Democrats find this term offensive and believe it hardens the resolve in those we are attempting to defeat along with more moderate followers of Islam. What has become a common theme throughout the primary season will certainly remain with us throughout the fall campaign.

With the positions of the two front-runners having very little gray in the color chart on this issue, general election voters will have yet another clear choice to decide as to the direction preferred the country should be headed over the next four years.

Steve Vassallo is a contributing columnist and Oxford resident. He can be reached at sovassallo@gmail.com.