The Issues: Where do Trump and Clinton stand on terrorism and national security?

Bianna Golodryga
Yahoo News and Finance Anchor

By Summer Delaney

Just below the economy, terrorism is the second most important issue for voters in 2016.

Over the course of the 2016 campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have laid out their visions on how to fight terrorism both at home and abroad. Yahoo’s Chief Washington Correspondent Olivier Knox broke down some of their key differences with their approaches toward fighting ISIS, Russia relations and immigration policies ahead of Wednesday’s final presidential debate.

Combating ISIS

Though Trump and Clinton have vastly different views toward defeating ISIS, the two candidates have some common ground.

“Both campaigns have embraced this idea of creating either a no-fly-zone, or a humanitarian zone or a safe area,” said Knox to Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga. “They are all slightly different, but the bottom line is you would need American and allied military force to protect, to make that area safe.”

Trump has been quick to criticize the Obama administration’s efforts toward fighting ISIS, but the GOP presidential candidate has changed his approach throughout the campaign about how to defeat the jihadi militant group.

“Back in the primary, [Trump] was talking about sending as many as 40,000 ground troops into the region to take on ISIS; he’s walked that back,” said Knox. “He’s said at one point that he knew more than the generals — the Pentagon — do about ISIS. Now his plan —  the last time I heard it — his plan was to convene the generals, actually, and get them to come up with a plan about a month into his term. It’s a little hard to evaluate.”

Trump’s comments have allowed Clinton’s hawkishness not to be held to account by voters: “[Clinton] wanted to arm Syrian rebels, she’s been consistently more interventionist, she was a big champion of the military semi-intervention in Libya — so there is room to criticize her.”

Relations with Russia and Putin
Russia’s role in this election has been pushed to the forefront in recent weeks after the U.S. intelligence community officially accused the country of hacking the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. But Trump and Clinton also have differing opinions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Clinton saying Wednesday Putin would rather have Trump, “a puppet,” as president of the United States.

“[Clinton] wouldn’t embrace Putin the way Trump has,” Knox said. “We know that Hillary Clinton was the architect of the so-called “reset” in U.S. Russian relations.”

Trump has consistently advocated for better relations with Russia. During the final presidential debate, he said: “if Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good. He has no respect for her. He has no respect for our president.”

Immigration as it relates to terrorism
After the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December, Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Over the summer, Trump expanded his policy by stating, “I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.”

Clinton has advocated for taking in more immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria. Her campaign website states that Clinton wants to “ensure refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. have a fair chance to tell their stories.”

“The American vetting process is extremely lengthy; you can’t just open a spigot and magically bring in a much larger number of refugees,” said Knox. “The Obama administration, they met their target, but their target was pretty low … in one way [Clinton] is promising to do more of a humanitarian thing, but barring some serious changes to the vetting process it seems difficult to actually achieve.”