Donald Trump’s ambiguous answer to a debate question on nuclear restraint raised doubts about his understanding of the issue.
On the other hand, his words actually mirror the nub of a policy argument inside the Obama administration.
Asked at Monday’s debate whether he supports the longstanding U.S. refusal to rule out being the first to use nuclear weapons, Trump at first said, “I would certainly not do first strike.” That would seem to indicate he does not support current policy.
But then he said, “I can’t take anything off the table.” And that would suggest just the opposite: that he would not rule out a nuclear first strike.
In fact, the Obama administration has been considering a policy shift to rule out a nuclear first strike.