08/06/2015 Debate Report Card for the First Republican Primary Debate

We at AIFD view our mission as non-partisan. Islamism, or radical Islam, runs counter to the universal human rights all American political parties claim to espouse. Islamism is opposed to truly free market principles, to women’s rights, to racial equality, and to individual liberty.
This year, Dr. Jasser has decided to watch the primary dates with an eye toward grading the candidates on their positions, clarity and vision with regard to militant Islamism, counterterrorism and foreign policy strategy.
AIFD endorses no candidate or party. These are Dr. Jasser’s personal observations of the Republican primary with an eye only towards our non-partisan issues. He will also grade the Democratic candidates on these most important issues after their debate.
“I have given each candidate a letter grade based on their responses to questions and discussion related to the issue of Islamism, and related foreign policy. This ‘report card’ has not considered their other statements or history on issues related to Islamism, Islam, or Muslims. I am well aware of problematic statements and positions by some on these issues. Here, my feedback and grade is based solely on this debate on Thursday, August 6, 2015.  Fair or unfair, candidates who made no comment on the threat or the issue are given an F even if they were not asked a direct question on this issue since it is the most important issue in our foreign policy if not in this entire election and it makes quite a statement if they never found an opportunity to weigh in at all. These are in alphabetical order. The second tier debate is not covered save a couple included worth mentioning.”– M. Zuhdi Jasser
  1. Bush: C
Domestic: Bush was silent on the issue domestically.
Foreign policy: Bush’s comments were unclear as to what is at stake both in Iraq and in the entire region, particularly in the wake of the “Arab Awakening.”
  1. Carson: F
Domestic: Carson was silent on the issue.
Foreign policy: When Carson was asked about Syria and chemical weapons, he dodged the question and didn’t take the opportunity to address the real threat.
  1. Christie: B
Domestic: Christie was clear on the need for robust monitoring of potential threats, but he was not able to clearly define the threat or engage in a discussion of it.
Foreign policy: He identified the need for a strong military, but gave no policy vision or plan.
  1. Cruz: A-/B+
Domestic: While Cruz was not as specific as he should have been about what the threat is (he said “radical Islamic,” but did not provide more detail).
Foreign policy: He was somewhat clear on identifying the enemy.ruz’s endorsement of Egyptian dictator Al-Sisi is problematic. While some people understandably  find al-Sisi’s rhetoric about Islamism (ala Muslim Brotherhood) appealing, Cruz should revert to his previous, more measured position on Al-Sisi.
  1. Fiorina: A-/B+.
Domestic: Did not use the word Islamism, but she gave a far clearer vision for the region and security than most.
Foreign Policy: Fiorina identified the enemy, was clear on Iran and how to do strong diplomacy. Though this is not a complete review of the early second tier debate, she stood out on these issues.
  1. Huckabee: B
Domestic: Silent
Foreign policy: very strong on Iran. Needs more vision for the region.
  1. Jindal: B+
Jindal did mention the need to ally with anti-extremist Muslims. He was light on specifics and vision.
  1. Kasich: F.
Silent on the issues.
  1.  Paul: F. 
His rambling  conversation on the 4th Amendment, the NSA, and overly myopic comments on “giving arms to ISIS” demonstrated no ability to identify actual solutions or viable policies for the protections of our liberty domestically; nor any vision for advancing liberty globally in a messy world dominated by Islamist movements and dictators.
  1. Rubio: A-/B+
Rubio began to provide some vision for the role America plays in the world, but he could have been clearer on Islamism and the ideology of our enemies.
  1. Trump: D-
Other than a vague promise to be ‘tough’ on Iran and his criticism of the #IranDeal – only to be followed by an odd (perhaps a joke?) request that Americans should buy stock in Iran – Trump provided no details about what he would or would not do when it came to Iran. He also had no plan for addressing militant Islamism worldwide. He never mentioned Islamism or the ideological threat, even when pressed.
  1. Walker: B+
Walker was one of the only candidates to link the Iran deal to our failed strategy against ISIS, demonstrating a better understanding of the region and of Iran’s importance in the battle against against radical Islam. He was was strong on Iran, but otherwise rather silent to vague on policy specifics.