The top presidential candidates when it comes to protecting the nation are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- and Donald Trump? Many pundits expected that Trump, a business mogul and former reality TV star with no national security experience, would suffer in the polls after a terrorism attack in Paris Friday night killed or wounded hundreds. The tragedy, political observers predicted, would likely push voters toward more conventional candidates with solid foreign experience in terms of keeping America safe.
But voters have seemingly been won over by Trump's tough talk against radical Islam, a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Tuesday found. When assessing the field of 2016 presidential hopefuls, 20 percent of 1,106 respondents named Trump, the Republican front-runner, as their top pick. The same amount went with Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, according to the poll, which was conducted Monday and Tuesday.
During a campaign rally Saturday, Trump said Paris' tough gun laws were to blame for the high death toll in the Paris attack, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility. He has also said he would close some mosques to protect Americans from terrorism.
After Trump, Republican voters picked Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as the strongest candidate to confront terrorism. Ben Carson was tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 9 percent support. Bush has said he doesn't trust Trump to occupy the White House.
"In a moment like this, Americans say, 'Well, golly, the president needs to be a real commander in chief and manage real problems,'" Peter Feaver, a political science and public policy professor at Duke University, told International Business Times this week. "The candidates who look like they could really do that -- who have understanding of the issues and the gravitas to handle them in terms of responsibility rather than soundbites -- I think those candidates benefit."
The candidates bickered on social media this week over who was the strongest national security leader.
.@marcorubio wants to distract from his weakness on security by saying we should simply keep spying on every American.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) November 17, 2015
We've seen a lot of hateful rhetoric from the GOP. But the idea that we'd turn away refugees because of religion is a new low. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 17, 2015
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 17, 2015