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Study: GOP Defense Officials Confident in Clinton

In a survey conducted on military professionals and experts, the majority trusted Clinton’s leadership over Trump’s.

The Hill reports:

A survey of former military officials and defense experts finds broad support for Hillary Clinton and deep suspicion of Donald Trump, even among Republicans.

Data provided to The Hill by Capital Point, a Washington-based research firm, finds that top military experts — Republicans and Democrats alike — are alarmed by the prospect of Trump handling the nation’s foreign affairs from the White House.

Capital Point interviewed 100 high-ranking former military officials and national security experts, selecting 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats.

On the question of which candidate is more qualified to deal with foreign policy issues, all 100 chose Clinton.

“Trump shows ignorance by threatening to destroy seven decades of alliances,” one Republican said. “Four years as secretary of State alone makes her more qualified plus several years on Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Many Republicans interviewed for the survey — they were allowed to comment anonymously to encourage candor — expressed concern with the Democratic nominee’s judgment and record in some areas of the world.

But all said that she would make a far better commander in chief than Trump.

“While Clinton has made a number of missteps in her time as secretary of State, overall she did an excellent job and has a firm grounding in the threats facing the United States, as well as how to deal with them (e.g., putting additional pressure on Iran through sanctions to combat its support for terrorism),” said another Republican.

“Trump, in contrast, does not seem to have a firm grasp of the nature of the threats facing the United States, in particular Russia.”

The GOP nominee has repeatedly been stung by high-profile GOP defections, including by military leaders and former administration officials from both Bush presidencies.

The former defense officials surveyed by Capital Partners didn’t only express opposition to Trump; they also praised Clinton as having the knowledge to handle complicated issues in sensitive parts of the world.

“Clinton is well-versed in national security issues. Trump is a neophyte,” said one Republican. “Trump argues we can deal with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as a normal partner, believes China should handle North Korea, wishes to exacerbate China’s aggressive behavior with a trade war, believes Brexit is good for Europe, wants to walk away from nation-building.”

Seventy-one percent of Republicans interviewed by Capital Point said Clinton would be effective in limiting Russia’s aggression against neighboring countries, compared to only 7 percent who said the same of Trump.

Seventy-three percent of Republicans said they trust Clinton to handle the North Korean nuclear threat, compared with 7 percent for Trump.

And 71 percent of Republicans said Clinton could be trusted to appropriately engage with China over the nation’s expansion into the South China Sea, and 14 percent said the same of Trump.

“Clinton’s comments as secretary of State on China’s behavior in the South China Sea raised the profile of the issue among the international community, she deserves credit for a gutsy diplomatic move,” one Republican said. “Trump is a con artist and a clown, nothing else.”

Clinton scored worse among Republicans on the question of fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with only 50 percent expressing confidence in her. That was Trump’s best question, but he still only scored 21 percent approval among Republicans in the poll.

Clinton tallied her worst showing on how she would handle the deteriorating situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 36 percent support among Republicans. Trump scored 7 percent.

“I have little confidence in either candidate; however, one scares me less than the other,” a Republican said. “It’s too obvious for words.”

The former defense officials were asked to grade the quality of military talent they believe each candidate would attract to their administrations. Clinton received a “B” from Republicans, and Trump got a “D.”

And they were asked where the candidates rank in foreign policy expertise compared to past presidents.

Republicans put Clinton in the top half of all presidents, while Trump was in the bottom 10 percent.

“Trump has zero experience, zero credentials, and from much (not all) of what he says, he shows every sign of being a presidential disaster,” one Republican said.

“Clinton has vast experience, obviously. She has also a thin record of accomplishment that, were she a Republican would be well understood by all. She has committed vast errors in honesty and judgment — all rather well documented. Still, she’s far better gamble.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

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