Nov 16, 2015 10:39 PM

Steinhauser: Will Paris terror attacks turn GOP presidential nomination race upside down?

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD - "I'm trying to protect America from another 9/11," says Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The South Carolina Republican and long shot for the GOP presidential nomination is raising alarm bells in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris.

"Without American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, we're going to get it here at home. If you don't understand that, you're not ready to be commander in chief," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union."

National security and terrorism were leading topics in the race for the White House, but in the wake of Friday's deadly attacks, they're are the only topics being discussed right now on the presidential campaign trail.

"I think it gives an opportunity to candidates like Lindsey Graham who is clearly basing his entire campaign on his knowledge of foreign policy and national security issues," said veteran New Hampshire based Republican consultant Michael Dennehy.

Other perceived hawks, such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, may benefit as well.

"I think it hurts candidates like Ben Carson and Donald Trump, who have said very little about national security and foreign policy, just soundbites, and that’s not good enough when hundreds of people were just killed in Paris as a result of terrorist attacks. I think it hurts them. I think it will help the more established politicians in the field," added Dennehy, who was a top political adviser to Sen. John McCain in his 2000 and 2008 presidential runs.

With less than three months to go until New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, the big question is how long will the Paris attacks dominate the news cycle, and the presidential campaign trail?

"I don’t think the campaign will now turn to only being national security, foreign policy. I think it will elevate the issue but I don’t think it will take over. I think it will still be jobs and the economy and locally in New Hampshire there’s going to be that drug issue component," said Dennehy, who was a top adviser this year for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's ill-fated presidential campaign.


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