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Left: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci). Right: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media before boarding her campaign plane at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, to travel to Charlotte, N.C., to attend a campaign rally. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Like it or not, terrorism is about to become a big election issue again


Like it or not, terrorism is about to become a big election issue again

Watch | Here's how the candidates and their VP picks responded to Saturday's explosion in New York City. 

Three potential terror attacks on American soil over the course of one weekend means at least one thing for sure: Terrorism is once again slated to become a key focus of the 2016 presidential election.

In the course of 24 hours this weekend, an explosion rocked New York City, a man carried out a mass stabbing in Minnesota and a pipe bomb exploded in New Jersey. All are being investigated as potential terrorist attacks -- and predictably, the presidential candidates are all over it.

Clinton's response

Hillary Clinton released a statement about the three attacks on Sunday, saying the incidents should "steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups."

She noted that while ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Minnesota stabbings, no one has yet come forward to claim responsibility for the explosions in New York and New Jersey. Only one person was seriously injured in those explosions.

Here's the full statement from Clinton.

Trump's reaction

As of Sunday evening, Trump had mentioned the explosion in New York twice -- once at a rally on Saturday evening just moments after the explosion was first reported, and again in a tweet  on Sunday morning. 

"Boy, we are living in a time," he said. "We better get very tough, folks."

His vice presidential pick Mike Pence was also asked to respond to the attacks on Sunday, but said he shouldn't comment on an ongoing investigation. He instead expressed relief that no one was killed.

Trump expressed "warmest regards" to explosion victims on Sunday. 

Clinton's VP pick hits the Sunday shows

Clinton also used her vice presidential pick, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), to promote her plan to defeat ISIS in response to the apparent attacks. Kaine was all over the Sunday news talk shows touting the campaign's plan, as well as Clinton's experience dealing with terror attacks.

"Hillary Clinton was New York Senator on 9/11 and was there at the World Trade Centers," he told NBC's Meet the Press. 

[She] was there at the World Trade Centers ... She's been through this.
Tim Kaine, talking about Clinton's experience

"They were still looking for survivors. And she's been through this," Kaine continued. "It's been a searing experience in her life. And she was part of the national security team that worked together to revive the hunt and wipe out [Osama] bin Laden."

Will Trump benefit?

Trump, however, may be the one to benefit from an intensified focus on terrorism in the run-up to Election Day. 

As Vox has pointed out, candidates aligned with the Republican Party often  tend to do better when terrorism is in the picture, because polls show voters trust Republicans more on the issue.

According to Vox, "both experimental and real-world studies have tended to show that in the US and abroad, the major party with a more hawkish reputation usually benefits when international terror becomes a major concern."

Trump not your average GOP hawk

But Trump, of course, is not a traditional Republican -- something that could throw the general equation out of whack. That's something a number of left-leaning commentators have  argued, saying Trump's unpredictable nature could cause people to think him unreliable in a terror attack situation. 

With the first one-on-one debate a week away, though, only time will tell. 

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