foreign policy

What single country do you believe presents the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S.?

Russia

Russia

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet “believes Russia is our greatest near-term threat. Russia attacked our democracy, and continues to interfere in other Western democracies — and the current administration has no strategy to stop it or protect our elections. China is the greatest long-term strategic challenge we face,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “China is stealing our technology and spying on our companies, expanding its military presence across the globe, exporting its surveillance state, and working to set international technology standards. The answer to China’s expansion is a strong American democracy. To outcompete China — and reclaim U.S. influence on the world stage — we need to ensure our democracy is protected. That is one reason we need urgently to address the threat from Russia.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, New York City

De Blasio named Russia as the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States in the first Democratic debate.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. representative, Texas

“In the near-term, Russia presents the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States,” an O’Rourke spokesperson told The Post. “Their coordinated attempts to interfere in our democratic process and in the elections of other democracies highlights the urgency with which we must address their aggression. As President, [O’Rourke] will reinforce our NATO commitments, impose sanctions on the Russian oligarchs that advance [Vladimir] Putin’s corrupt activities, and safeguard our elections from future attacks by investing in cybersecurity and election audits.”

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Marianne Williamson

Author

Russia is the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States, WIlliamson told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

Yang thinks Russia presents the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States, he told The Post.

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Andrew Yang
Yang

China

China

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro named China, as well as climate change, as the greatest geopolitical threats to the United States in the first Democratic debate.

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Julian Castro
Castro

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney named China, as well as nuclear weapons, as the greatest geopolitical threats to the United States in the first Democratic debate.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Tim Ryan

U.S. representative, Ohio

“While Russia is a serious threat because of their massive nuclear arsenal and the fact that they interfered and continue to interfere in our democratic process, I believe China is the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States,” Ryan told The Post. At a CNN town hall meeting, he said: “China is on the move. China is our Number One threat. We have a relationship but they are a threat.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Joe Sestak

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

“China, and its illiberal world order based upon autocratic values where 'might makes right,' ” Sestak told The Post, citing several Chinese actions. “With regard to this concern: The U.S. military commander of the Pacific has said China now commands the Western Pacific. China’s global ambitions are most troubling and challenging because its values are opposed to those nations whose values are based upon democratic liberal ideals of individual and human rights, open and fair markets, fair and just democratic governments, and the collective of the world.”

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

North Korea

North Korea

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“North Korea is the nation that poses the single greatest national security threat to the United States. We must use every available diplomatic lever to contain and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenal,” Booker told The Post.

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Cory Booker
Booker

Other/Unclear/No response

Other/Unclear/No response

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“In the near-term, Russia, which seeks to undermine our democracy and our partners in Europe, including the members of the NATO alliance,” Biden told The Post. “In the medium-term, a rising China poses the greatest strategic challenge to the United States and our allies in Asia and in Europe. Ultimately, over the long term, the greatest geopolitical threat — an existential threat to all countries — is the climate crisis.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Steve Bullock

Governor, Montana

Bullock did not answer this question by publication.

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“China and Russia pose distinct but increasingly coordinated threats to our democratic values, security and prosperity,” Buttigieg told The Post. “We must focus on repairing our democracy and reinvesting in our economic and technological competitiveness; renewing our alliances; inoculating open societies from political interference while countering authoritarian oppression; realigning national security investments to reflect Chinese and Russian military modernization and full-spectrum statecraft; and reducing vulnerabilities from the “weaponization” of economic interdependence, particularly in sensitive sectors with national security implications.”

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

“The term “geopolitical threat” is a vague term. As president, I will work to usher in a 21st century of win-win relationships with other countries,” Gabbard told The Post. “We must remember that we have a choice in what nations we see as threats. It does not benefit us to unnecessarily label competitors as threats. Effective diplomacy, including economic and environmental policy making, seeking cooperation in areas of mutual concern — these can be more powerful at setting geostrategic conditions that further the cause of America’s national security, peace and stability than applying adversarial labels.”

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Kamala D. Harris

U.S. senator, California

Harris did not answer this question by publication.

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Kamala Harris
Harris

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

“Two threats: economic threat, China, but our major threat right now is what's going on in the Mideast with Iran if we don't get our act together with this president,” Klobuchar said in the first Democratic debate. Her campaign did not provide an answer by publication.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Wayne Messam

Mayor, Miramar, Fla.

Messam did not answer this question by publication.

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Wayne Messam
Messam

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“The United States is the most powerful nation in the world militarily, economically, politically and culturally. We are the only nation with vibrant, global alliances,” Sanders told The Post. “The greatest threat to our sustained global leadership and security comes not from any one nation but from our own political dysfunction and the neglect of the economic and domestic security of our citizens. Today, that is epitomized by the destructive presidency of Donald Trump, but the roots of this dysfunction go back decades and the consequences will be with us for decades after I defeat Donald Trump.”

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

Steyer did not answer this question by publication.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“We face many challenges: the existential threat of climate change, the risks of proliferation, China on the rise and Russia set on undermining international stability,” Warren told The Post. “The next president will not have the luxury of focusing on just one issue. But Americans are adaptive and resilient. We have overcome challenges before, and we will again. To do so, we must recognize that our global power is generated here at home — and come together to reinvest in American workers, to address systemic inequality and corruption, and to revive our democracy.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

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Background Democrats widely mocked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 2012 when he called Russia the biggest geopolitical foe, a position many in the party have since abandoned. But the question of whom candidates consider the nation’s No. 1 adversary has remained a dividing line. If a candidate provided multiple countries and said they considered one more urgent, they are categorized based on what they viewed as the most immediate threat, unless their campaign objected to such a classification.

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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