Democratic presidential candidates at the party’s first 2020 primary debate were asked to give the most significant geopolitical threat facing the U.S. 

Many focused on climate change and China, while some mentioned Iran and even President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE himself.

“The biggest geopolitical challenge is China, but the biggest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons,” former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what ‘policing’ means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan says there will be consequences from fraying US-China relations; WHO walks back claims on asymptomatic spread of virus MORE (D-Md.) said.

“The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump,” Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee calls on Trump to ‘stay out of Washington state’s business’ Seattle mayor responds to Trump: ‘Go back to your bunker’ Trump warns he will take back Seattle from ‘ugly Anarchists’ if local leaders don’t act MORE (D) claimed to loud applause. 

“The greatest threat that we face is the fact that we’re at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history,” Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii) told the Miami crowd.

ADVERTISEMENT“Two threats: economic threat, China, but our major threat right now is what’s going on in the Mideast right now with Iran if we don’t get our act together,” said Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.).

“Our existential threat is climate change. We have to confront it before it’s too late,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said.

“Climate change,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) agreed.

“Nuclear proliferation and climate change” was the response from Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.).

“China and climate change,” said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

“China, without a question. They’re whipping us around the world economically,” Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanMinnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen Congress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left MORE (D-Ohio), who represents a blue-collar district, said.

“Russia because they’re trying to undermine our democracy, and they’ve been doing a pretty damn good job of it, and we need to stop them,” New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioProtesters splash red paint on NYC streets to symbolize blood De Blasio: Robert E Lee’s ‘name should be taken off everything in America, period’ House Democratic whip pushes back on calls to defund police: We need to focus on reform MORE said.

The responses come as tensions ratchet up between Washington and Tehran following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone that the Pentagon said was over international waters. The Iranian strike nearly led to a retaliatory military strike, which Trump said he scrapped at the eleventh hour after learning the attack could kill as many as 150 Iranians.

China also poses a significant economic threat to the U.S. with its strong manufacturing sector.

Climate change has emerged as an animating issue for the Democratic base, with polls showing many view it as a crucial issue for the next administration to tackle.

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