- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Sunday that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was the only contender in the race with enough foreign policy experience to be an effective commander in chief, continuing to campaign for her two days ahead of the country’s first primary in her home turf.

“We’ve seen the challenges that we face,” she said on a conference call from New Hampshire. “This morning on the news, we heard that North Korea launched another missile, and I think we need a commander-in-chief that understands the world challenges, who has credibility in the international community among world leaders, who has the experience Hillary Clinton has to lead this country on an international stage.”

Ms. Shaheen pointed to Republican rhetoric as evidence of increased polarization, something she said Mrs. Clinton has the expertise to deal with.

Foreign policy will be the top issue of the general election, she argued, and the former secretary of state would be able to make it through a “critical election.”

She was joined on the call by two New Hampshire residents, Daniel Benjamin, a former State Department coordinator of counterterrorism, and Charlie Mooskian, a former Veterans of Foreign Wars state chaplain, in backing Mrs. Clinton for the presidency.

Mr. Benjamin more directly attacked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mrs. Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, arguing that he did not have a solid grasp of foreign policy and that his understanding of international relations was rudimentary at best.


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“If you watched the debate the other night, and the previous debates, he really has kind of kept it at arms length,” he said. “He seems not to have really studied up on a lot of key issues. He stumbled on a couple of important questions on Afghanistan, on where we still had troops. His answers on North Korea seemed kind of pedestrian and not fully informed.”

He took particular fault with Mr. Sanders‘ position on Middle East issues, saying that the Vermont senator was advocating for Iran playing a bigger role in dealing with ISIS, a terror group operating out of Iraq and Syria.

Attacking opponents for their lack of foreign policy is a tack Mrs. Clinton has tried before. In 2008, her campaign went after now-President Barack Obama for being a foreign policy novice.

Mr. Benjamin acknowledged it was the same tactic, but said that Mr. Obama put together a “remarkable” national security team from the get-go.

He also pointed to the fact that Mr. Sanders has not served on any committee related to foreign policy.

“It’s certainly true that experience is critically important and that judgement is critically important and you’ve got to have both,” he said. “But I think voters will see in this case that you’re dealing with such an extraordinary difference that you know, it’d be unwise to take a chance.”

Mr. Mooskian said he was concerned Mr. Sanders was not well-rounded enough to take office and be effective from his first day on the job.

“The top issues that greatly concern me are keeping the country safe and being able to walk into the office and lead from the first day. I believe that Secretary Clinton can do this without skipping a beat, and I don’t feel that Senator Sanders will be able to do that,” Mr. Mooskian said.

He also bashed Mr. Sanders for using campaign images of veterans “that do not support him,” having distributed flyers across the Granite State featuring soldiers wearing Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion caps.

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