BURLINGTON, Iowa — With time running out before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, an aide confirmed Friday that presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has no plans to deliver a previously advertised speech on foreign policy before the first votes are cast in the Democratic race.
In early December, the Vermont senator told The Washington Post that he planned to give a major address on foreign policy in Iowa. At the time, Sanders was facing questions about why a campaign message dominated by domestic policy had not broadened more in the wake of terrorist-inspired attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.
On Friday, Sanders communications director Michael Briggs said no speech is planned, adding that Sanders has spoken extensively in recent weeks about foreign policy, including during a breakfast with reporters Thursday in Des Moines hosted by Bloomberg Politics.
Sanders also included a segment on foreign policy in another speech he gave, on the topic of his guiding philosophy of democratic socialism, at Georgetown University in November.
Among other things, Sanders was highly critical in that speech of the “ill-conceived” invasion of Iraq that was supported by his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and which Sanders said led to the far-reaching destabilization of the Middle East.
“I’m not running to pursue reckless adventures abroad, but to rebuild America’s strength at home,” the Vermont senator said at Georgetown. “I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will never send our sons and daughters to a war under false pretense.”
In that speech and more recent campaign events, Sanders has pledged to work to defeat the Islamic State but said the “boots on the ground” needed to defeat the terrorist organization should be provided by Muslim nations.
Sanders has acknowledged that Clinton, a former secretary of state, has more foreign policy experience than him but argued that he has superior judgment, pointing to their divergent votes in 2002 on authorizing the war in Iraq.
Sanders, who was a member of the House of Representatives at the time, opposed the war, while Clinton, who was a senator representing New York at the time, supported it. She has since called her vote a mistake.
“It is great to be against the war after you vote for the war,” Sanders said sarcastically during a campaign stop here Thursday night.
Sanders’s stump speeches continue to be heavily focused on domestic issues, particularly economic policy. As often as not, he does not go into any detail on international affairs unless an audience member asks him a question on the subject.