The Note: Candidates Confront The Refugee Question

ByABC News
November 17, 2015, 8:55 AM


--TRUMP PROMISES TO DEPORT SYRIAN MIGRANTS: Donald Trump said he would deport all Syrian refugees who settle in the U.S. if elected president. "Anybody that's brought into this country from the migration is going to be out," Trump said at a rally in Knoxville, Tenn., last night. "We're not gonna do it. We're gonna have a country again, we're gonna have borders, we're gonna have a country again, right now we don't have a country." Rather than accept Syrian refugees in the U.S., which Trump argues is a "Trojan Horse" that could allow entry for terrorists into the country, he advocates for building a "safe zone" inside Syria, where he said refugees could wait out the conflict. According to ABC's JORDYN PHELPS, more than 25 governors have vowed to reject Syrian refugees from settling in their states in response to the Paris attacks.

--WHAT THE CANDIDATES SAY THE US SHOULD DO ABOUT ISIS: In the days since the massacre overseas, the presidential hopefuls have offered an array of opinions, with several of the Republicans contenders coming out in favor of doing more; even if that means American "boots on the ground." Yesterday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Fox News that the United States should "absolutely" be profiling in order to prevent Islamic terrorists from crossing our borders and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz Sunday said the United States should accept Christian refugees but not Muslims. ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI, ALANA ABRAMSON and LISSETTE RODRIGUEZ look at what the 2016 candidates have been saying about how they would handle the threat posed by ISIS.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: The speed with which the Paris attacks went from a national-security debate to an immigration one says more about the perceived state of today's Republican Party than it does about today's perceived security threats. The Republican contenders have sought to one-up themselves with letters, bills, demands, and sound bites aimed at blocking the Obama administration from allowing Syrian Muslim refugees into the United States. Half the nation's governors -- almost all of them Republicans -- are threatening not to welcome them into their states, even though there's little they can do to bar them if the federal government accepts them as refugees. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have offered differing (and mostly non-specific, so far) proposals to make it easier for Syrian Christians to enter the US as refugees, while potentially blocking Muslims. (George W. Bush administration veterans Condoleezza Rice and Ari Fleischer are among those calling it a mistake to turn America's back on refugees, for what that's worth.) The rhetoric brought a harsh rebuttal from President Obama, who called it "un-American" to impose a religious test on refugees. It does not, for now, look un-Republican in this primary season.


TEAM HILLARY LAUNCHES STATE LEADERSHIP COUNCILS IN FLORIDA AND MARYLAND. Hillary for America will launch two more of its state Leadership Councils today: One in Florida and one in Maryland, a campaign aide tells The Note. According to the campaign: "The Florida Leadership Council includes over 150 top Florida officials like U.S. Senator Nelson, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, nearly every Democratic member of Congress, over two-thirds of State House Democrats, and the mayors of some of the state's largest cities including Tampa and Orlando. The Maryland Leadership Council includes over 70 top Maryland officials such as Senators Barbra Mikulski and Ben Cardin, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and many others."

WHAT WOMEN WANT IN 2016. "Downward spiral." "Pathetic." "Frightening." " "Hanging on by a Thread." These are how a group of women in a focus group last night held by pollster Peter Hart of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania described the state of the country, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and BEN GITTLESON. Yes, there was one "hopeful" and another "better," but overwhelmingly it was a negative reaction. The women were Democrats, Republicans, and one independent in Columbus, Ohio and the focus group was livestreamed for reporters to watch. The women were asked a variety of questions about our nation, it's government, and of course the 2016 election and the candidates. Some of the queries may seem initially like lighter fare, but revealed fascinating answers. The women were asked what they thought the 2016 candidates' backbones were made of--not literally, of course. The answer shows possibly some hope for Hillary Clinton as she got six steels, one iron, one titanium, one metal and the rest were not good news: plastic, rubber, and wire. As for Donald Trump, two of the women said gold and another glitter. He also got steel and iron. But, Jeb Bush may not want to hear what his backbone is made up of. The women cited play-doh, yarn, marshmallow, straw, even jello. And as for Ben Carson? One woman said bibles and another mentioned dinosaur bones. A focus group of a dozen men held shortly afterward revealed similar attitudes: America is "divided" and "polarized"; Clinton's backbone is made of titanium or metal; Bush's is jello, styrofoam or papier-mâché; and Carson's spine consists of "robotics" or "brain, just all brain." It's a small, but revealing snapshot into where voters' minds are less than twelve months from Election Day.



BEN CARSON SAYS CLAIM THAT HIS INTEL IS 'BETTER' THAN OBAMA'S WAS 'TONGUE IN CHEEK.' Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has clarified a comment he said over the weekend that he has access to better intelligence on Syria than the president. President Obama, speaking Monday in Antalya, Turkey, addressed Carson's comments indirectly. "Folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do," Obama said. "Present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my joint chiefs of staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate." Carson, in response to the president's comments this morning, said his language was "tongue in cheek," ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS reports. "When I said we have better advisers, that was tongue in cheek," Carson told ABC News. "I hope we don't, that would be very alarming if we did."

WHY STEVE KING ENDORSED TED CRUZ -- AND NOT BEN CARSON OR DONALD TRUMP. Congressman Steve King has endorsed Ted Cruz for President - saying Cruz is the "answer to my prayers" and that Ben Carson and Donald Trump's lack of Washington, D.C., experience makes the job "harder" for them. "I do believe that Ted Cruz is the full package, the constitutional conservative that can restore the soul of America," King told reporters in a conference room at the Des Moines Marriott. King is an influential voice in Iowa politics who was courted by many conservative Republicans including Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, ABC's JOSH HASKELL and JESSICA HOPPER note. He said he made his decision Friday following a foreign trip to Europe where "I saw the erosion of the culture...because of the colossal cultural suicide they're committing." King was asked why he decided not to endorse either of the two Republican frontrunners, Ben Carson or Donald Trump, whose beliefs align with his. "It's going to be harder for either one of them to see what's going on in Washington, D.C., in K street, in the network," King said. "What's going on in the House and Senate and how does that get leveraged from the executive branch. I don't hear either one of them talking about the balance of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government. And I don't hear them talking about Supreme Court appointments."


FEC DEADLOCKS ON MAJOR SUPER PAC COORDINATION QUESTIONS. The six-member Federal Election Commission deadlocked on several key questions about Super PAC coordination with campaigns last Friday, solidifying the belief that Republican presidential campaigns pushing the envelope in 2016 will not face any enforcement action. Two Super PACs that support Democratic House and Senate candidates for office brought the questions to the panel in September, aiming to prompt a ruling that would make clear guidelines on "coordination" and bring into question the legality of actions of several 2016 Republican presidential candidates this cycle." According to ABC's RYAN STRUYK, the report states that the Commission could not approve a response to the remaining questions by the required four affirmative votes."


@tackettdc: Obama chooses explaination over "Churchillian" exhortation @shearm @peterbakernyt

@markknoller: In Paris, @JohnKerry emerged from meeting with Pres Hollande to say they discussed "significant steps" to expand fight against ISIS.

@JordynPhelps: Obama tells CQ he "would've enjoyed campaigning against Trump. That would've been fun," he said.

@politico2016: Jeb Bush loses TV ad edge to Marco Rubio

@amyewalter: Problem w/ Cruz's "conservatives stayed home" theory of '12 just isn't borne out by facts. All evidence of drop-off was in non-comp. states