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As the world continues burning, foreign policy will likely play an expanded role in the 2016 presidential election, when compared to 2012. A lot has happened on the world stage in the past several years with America taking a less interventionist role under the Obama administration. As a result, the next election may look similar to 2008 when the topics of Iraq and Afghanistan were mainstays in the discussion.

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Report from CBS News:

Clinton’s “sole qualification” for the White House is in the area of foreign policy, Danielle Pletka, a foreign policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told CBS News. “I think it is reasonable to assume foreign policy is going to play a big role in this election,” she said.

Matching up against Clinton may have been on the minds of New Jersey Gov. Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Ted Cruz as they took steps this week to flesh out their foreign policy positions and expertise.

Christie on Thursday embarked on a two-day trip to Canada, where he focused on the issues of energy and trade, while also touting his national security credentials. In a speech at the Calgary Petroleum Club, Christie noted that he was appointed as U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey on Sept. 10, 2001. One of the planes hijacked the following day left from Newark, giving Christie his “first test as the chief law enforcement officer” for the federal government in the state.

At a foreign policy event Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, didn’t shy away from the matter.

“If the objective were ‘defeat ISIS,’ if the objective were ‘defend U.S. national security,’ we would have a serious, concerted, real bombing campaign, not a photo-op campaign,” Cruz reportedly said. “We would be using the boots on the ground or the Peshmerga to hunt down and kill the leadership of ISIS.”

Pletka suggested that Cruz may be trying to cast himself as “sort of the responsible libertarian that Rand Paul isn’t.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, one of the most hawkish potential 2016 candidates, suggested in September that Cruz and Paul are following his lead when it comes to the fight against ISIS.

The varying foreign policy positions on the Republican side in 2016 will be played out during the campaign and even more so on the debate stage. Rand Paul’s biggest weakness, with some Republicans, tends to be his more libertarian-leaning foreign policy views. Paul is good at explaining and convincing but he’s starting with a handicap in some deep red primaries. Ted Cruz, and the rest, will be singling that issue out as a reason to disqualify Paul from the nomination.

Hillary Clinton will tout foreign policy as a strength given her time in the White House during her husband’s administration, and tenure as Secretary of State. That will play well in the Democratic primaries but could end up as a weakness if a Republican nominee can successfully link foreign policy failures of the Obama administration directly to Hillary Clinton. The only one who can match credentials with Hillary could be Joe Biden who has spent almost a decade on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, not to mention his experience as Vice President.

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