Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A Quick Guide to the Foreign Policy Views of the Republican Presidential Candidates
A Quick Guide to the Foreign Policy Views of the Republican Presidential Candidates

A Quick Guide to the Foreign Policy Views of the Republican Presidential Candidates

At a Glance

As of this writing, sixteen candidates are formally running for the nomination of the Republican Party for the presidency of the United States. Our purpose here is modest: to report on the foreign policy views of all the candidates, showing where they agree and where they disagree on a selection of issues.  On each issue, there seems to be one or two outliers among the candidates but the interesting thing is that the identities of the outliers are different on different issues. The purpose here is not to disparage or praise any one candidate, though sometimes it is hard not to notice an outright error of fact.

  • On the question of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the overwhelming majority of candidates say it was a mistake while a minority (Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal) maintain that the invasion was the right thing to do.  Marco Rubio seemed initially to agree with Graham and Jindal but then not. Jeb Bush tried out four different answers, finally concluding, “I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”
  • On the matter of sending ground troops to defeat ISIL, more than half of the candidates support sending ground troops; four have either ruled that out entirely or wish to keep that option in reserve down the line, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Bobby Jindal.  Some have not made their positions clear.
  • On the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, every candidate has expressed disapproval over Obama’s handling of the negotiations but only Rick Santorum is against any deal with Iran.
  • On Israel, all the candidates advocate a stronger relationship and condemn Obama’s treatment of Israel but there are differences on the matter of the two-state solution: Some support the two-state solution (Rubio, Graham, Bush, Walker, Christie, Perry, Carson, Pataki); some oppose (Santorum, Huckabee); and others have not specifically addressed the issue. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have not expressly opposed it but have sponsored legislation that takes a stringent stance against the Palestinian Authority.
  • On the resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the majority are opposed; Paul and Trump support it.
  • On the debate over the Patriot Act, the majority supported reauthorization of the Patriot Act (Rubio, Graham, Bush, Walker, Christie, Santorum, Perry, Trump, Pataki, and Jindal) but Cruz and Kasich took the middle ground and supported the alternative Freedom Act. Paul, Carson, and Huckabee oppose any bulk collection of metadata and thus did not support either act.
  • On the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade Promotion Authority to facilitate relatively quick consideration of the Partnership, there is more than a little equivocation.  Most candidates are unified in their support for free trade deals – in theory – but the majority oppose TPA even if they support the TPP[1]; Santorum opposes both; and a minority support both TPA and TPP (Rubio, Graham, Bush, Walker, and Christie).

[1] Because of the logistics of trade deals, support for TPP with concurrent opposition to TPA is akin to opposition to TPP.