foreign policy

Do you support cutting the defense budget from its current levels?

Yes

Yes

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet supports cutting the defense budget from its current levels, a spokesperson told The Post. He “believes there is waste and inefficiency within the Pentagon that can and should be addressed, including by reducing bureaucracy and streamlining our acquisition process,” a Bennet spokesperson said, adding that the United States must make "hard decisions about our presence in places like Afghanistan. [Bennet] believes that our nation's security comes from more than the size of our military, and that we must invest in the other elements of American security, like our intelligence capabilities, and our diplomatic and economic power.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“Over the course of the past two decades, defense spending has spiralled out of control. We need to make sure that we have a military that’s well-resourced and prepared, but right now, we spend nearly as much on defense as the next eight countries combined. We need to get our troops out of Afghanistan and reduce defense spending to appropriate levels,” Booker told The Post.

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Cory Booker
Booker

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

“Yes. The defense budget has spiraled out of control,” Gabbard told The Post. “I will end wasteful regime change wars that cost taxpayers billions of dollars every month & work to end the new cold war & arms race. I will invest in our national security, take care of our troops, ensuring their readiness. I will maintain our strong military, national security, & make significant cuts so we can redirect those dollars to serve the needs of our people here at home.”

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar supports cutting the defense budget from its current levels, her campaign told The Post.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Tim Ryan

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan supports cutting the defense budget, he told The Post. “America can actually build a better military, that is more suited to today’s threats, with less money and a systematic effort to [get rid of] Defense Department overspending and waste. ... I would like to see the money allocated to economic stimulus, reducing our national debt, and given back to the states for investments in public schools, infrastructure and job training programs. Making the U.S. stronger at home makes us stronger abroad.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“Yes. In my view we should not be spending more on the military than the next 10 nations combined. We should not be engaged in endless wars. The Pentagon is the only federal agency that cannot pass an independent audit, virtually every major defense contractor has been found guilty of fraud and the Defense Department tried to bury a report highlighting $125 billion in bureaucratic waste at the Pentagon,” Sanders told The Post. Sanders said that he believes in a strong military, but that “we cannot continue to give the Pentagon and defense contractors a blank check. It is time that we as a nation get our priorities straight.” He detailed his plan to cut military spending to Vox.

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Joe Sestak

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

“Yes, I favor reassessing combat readiness based on force posture, not force structure, meaning I believe we need to measure capability, not just capacity,” Sestak told The Post. “This means investing more in cyberspace and other high technology (including sensors, drones, surveillance equipment, etc), and less in bloated programs and weapons designed for a type of warfare we are unlikely to find ourselves involved in again. This will create a military that is more effective at less cost.”

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“Yes. The United States will spend more than $700 billion on defense this year alone. If more money for the Pentagon could solve our security challenges, we would have solved them by now,” Warren told The Post. “It’s past time to identify which programs actually benefit American security and support our troops and their families, and which programs merely line the pockets of defense contractors -- then pull out a sharp knife and make some cuts.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Marianne Williamson

Author

“Yes. We can cut the defense budget significantly without jeopardizing our security,” Williamson told The Post. “Too much of the defense budget is oriented more toward corporate profits than actual national defense.”

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

We should re-assess it

We should re-assess it

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less,” Biden told The Post. “The real question is not how much we invest — it’s how we invest. We have to make smart investments in technologies and innovations — including in cyber, space, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence — that will be necessary to meet the threats of the future. We have to move away from investments in legacy systems that won't be relevant for tomorrow's wars, and we have to rethink the contributions we and our allies make to our collective security. We also have to invest in our other elements of national power.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Steve Bullock

Governor, Montana

“I’m committed to ensuring our service members have everything they need to secure our nation. Our commander in chief must ensure that if America has to fight, we will win. We also have to ensure our long-term financial security,” Bullock told The Post. “With our national debt surpassing $22 trillion, and the Defense Department accounting for over half of our yearly discretionary spending, we must ensure we are budgeting for our long-term security and scrapping obsolete and ineffective programs.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“Those who have served understand the importance of a strong military. But to adequately prepare for our evolving security challenges, we need to look not only at how much we spend on our military, but what we are prioritizing,” Buttigieg told The Post. “The key is to re-prioritize our military investments by ending endless wars and strategically focus security operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East; curtailing an expensive weapons program designed for a former era; and building a better prepared, more modern and more technologically advanced force that can meet both troop and military family needs and future security challenges.”

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. representative, Texas

“As President, [O'Rourke] will go line by line to ensure spending is necessary and, more important, to ensure we are adequately preparing for current and future threats to our national security (e.g., cybersecurity). He will also make ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq top priorities, investing those resources saved in those who have served.”

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“We should reassess it and refocus it on modern threats,” such as cyberattacks, Yang told The Post. “This will almost certainly result in it being decreased.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

No, keep it at current levels

No, keep it at current levels

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“I will not seek reductions in defense spending and will work to reposition our military toward the threats of the future,” Delaney said in a May speech.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro did not answer this question by publication.

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Julian Castro
Castro

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, New York City

De Blasio did not answer this question by publication.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Kamala D. Harris

U.S. senator, California

Harris did not answer this question by publication.

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Kamala Harris
Harris

Wayne Messam

Mayor, Miramar, Fla.

Messam did not answer this question by publication.

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Wayne Messam
Messam

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

Steyer did not answer this question by publication.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

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How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. foreign policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role, and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports and surveys. See something we missed? Let us know.

We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president and excluded any who had left the race. The Post will contact any additional candidates as they enter the contest and include them here.

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