foreign policy

Would you continue Trump’s approach of meeting directly with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un without significant nuclear concessions?

Yes

Yes

Candidates who said directly they would meet with Kim Jong Un without conditions

Tulsi Gabbard (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard is no longer running for president. “Yes. Having a meeting is not a concession — direct negotiations without preconditions are necessary if we are serious about peace and keeping the American people safe,” Gabbard told The Post. “We should be open to talk with anyone — recognizing that it is in our national security interest and peace to do so.”

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Bernie Sanders (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders is no longer running for president. “Yes, if I determined that such a meeting was the best way to move forward toward an agreement,” Sanders told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. “Yes. But only if it is helpful to the long-term strategy for peace in the region and to relieve any threat to the United States,” Williamson told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang (Dropped out)

Tech entrepreneur

Yang is no longer running for president. “Yes. You can’t find solutions to problems if you’re not willing to talk,” Yang told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I would engage with North Korea without preconditions in order to find a path toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Not unless some conditions are met

Not unless some conditions are met

Some were open to a meeting if North Korea met conditions

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“After three made-for-TV summits, we still don't have a single concrete commitment from North Korea. Not one missile or nuclear weapon has been destroyed, not one inspector is on the ground. If anything, the situation has gotten worse,” Biden told The Post. “As president, I would renew a commitment to arms control for a new era — including North Korea. The historic Iran nuclear deal the Obama-Biden administration negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and it provides a blueprint for an effective negotiation. As president, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Michael Bennet (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet is no longer running for president. Bennet “believes North Korea’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to our nation's security and to global stability and norms. Any American president deserves support for pursuing a diplomatic approach toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “Any American president must also acknowledge the gravity of the situation, demonstrate leadership befitting of the office, and articulate a strategy to address this threat alongside our international partners. [Bennet] believes we must be clear eyed about the dangers in giving a dictator like Kim Jong Un legitimacy on the world stage — and clear about what we receive in return.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Mike Bloomberg (Dropped out)

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg is no longer running for president. Bloomberg would not meet directly with Kim Jong Un unless some conditions were met, he told The Post.

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Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “There is no indication that the current relationship between the U.S. and North Korea merits a meeting of the heads of state. The president has a responsibility to meet and negotiate with other world leaders — even our enemies — to advance vital national and global interests, but only with a clear goal in mind and under appropriate conditions.,” Booker told The Post. “As president, I would empower my diplomatic corps to engage in and demonstrate good faith negotiations, and meet with Kim Jong Un provided he did the same. Ultimately, smart diplomacy and negotiation are vital to resolving this threat.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “Trump has given Kim legitimacy without a clear objective,” Bullock told The Post. “I would be open to meeting with Kim if it were part of a strategic plan to secure peace for the region, not just a photo op.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg (Dropped out)

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

Buttigieg is no longer running for president. “If done properly, direct engagement with foreign leaders can be a key diplomatic tool to avoid conflict — not a high-wire personal act with no safety net,” Buttigieg told The Post. “These meetings should empower our diplomats, bolster our alliances, and move all sides forward on negotiations. I would meet with Kim if the meeting was framed by and coupled with working level progress to negotiate concrete terms of a comprehensive deal leading to denuclearization and regional peace.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. “I will not repeat the current administration’s dangerous mistake of being distracted by ceremonial diplomacy while lacking verifiable progress,” Castro told the Council on Foreign Relations. “Furthermore, any engagement with North Korea cannot come at the cost of undermining our alliance with South Korea, whose security is a vital and non-negotiable U.S. interest.”

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Julian Castro
Castro

John Delaney (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney is no longer running for president. “I support the Trump administration’s discussions with North Korea. We have to have discussions with our ‘enemies.’ That’s the point of diplomacy. And so the Delaney administration looks forward to continuing these discussions and working toward a denuclearized North Korea,” Delaney told Vox. “Since I have not criticized the president for actually holding summits, it would be hypocritical for me to say that I would never do that.” He said a meeting would “absolutely” be conditions-based.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. “President Trump has handed Kim one PR victory after the next, all without securing any real concessions, so the next president will have serious work to do,” Harris told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I would consider targeted sanctions relief to improve the lives of the North Korean people if the regime were to take serious, verifiable steps to roll back its nuclear program.”

Aug. 22: “I can tell you this: As president, I won’t be exchanging love letters with Kim Jong-un.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala Harris
Harris

Amy Klobuchar (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar is no longer running for president. “We’ve seen a history where Trump announces a summit and nothing really comes of it,” Klobuchar said on CNN. “It’s not as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door.”

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Beto O'Rourke (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke is no longer running for president. “By meeting with Kim without significant nuclear concessions, President Trump has handed the regime in Pyongyang greater strength at home and increased legitimacy on the world stage, all while gaining very little in return,” an O'Rourke campaign spokesperson told The Post. “As president, Beto would not rule out a direct meeting with Kim, but any summit between the leaders must be aligned with a diplomatic process and clearly established goals.”

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Deval Patrick (Dropped out)

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick is no longer running for president. Patrick would not meet directly with Kim Jong Un unless some conditions were met, a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “Instead of publicity stunts, North Korea and the world should expect meaningful and serious diplomacy from the Patrick Administration with the objective of accomplishing meaningful and serious goals,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

Tim Ryan (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan is no longer running for president. “Absolutely not. Without preconditions for meeting, Trump has given Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship unprecedented, international legitimacy,” Ryan told The Post. “The international and humanitarian crimes committed by the North Korean government are well documented and cannot be ignored. I believe meeting with and negotiating an end to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is an inevitable and essential prerequisite for peace in the region, but such meetings must be taken in a calculated, methodical way.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Tom Steyer (Dropped out)

Billionaire activist

Steyer is no longer running for president. Steyer would not meet directly with Kim Jong Un unless some conditions were met, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is no longer running for president. “My first priority with North Korea is to secure a strong, verifiable agreement keeps North Korea from expanding its nuclear arsenal or exporting nuclear technology and expertise to other countries,” Warren told The Post. “I would meet with Kim if it advances substantive negotiations, but not as a vanity project. Any summit must be part of a clear strategy, developed in coordination with our allies and partners and designed to advance our interests.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

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Background Democratic and Republican presidents alike were unable to deter North Korea from building nuclear weapons, which most experts think the country will not relinquish. President Trump’s revolutionary bet is that he can use personal diplomacy to offer Kim a path to economic prosperity and an end to his country’s pariah status. It hasn’t yielded a binding agreement to eradicate nuclear weapons, but has lowered tensions.

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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.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ 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. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.