Democratic Debate Focus Shifts After Paris Attacks

CBS News scrambled Friday evening to devise questions relating to terrorism and foreign affairs

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley will face off in a second Democratic primary debate Saturday evening. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris that reportedly left well over 100 people dead Friday, the network behind Saturday evening's U.S. Democratic debate has significantly shifted the planned focus of the event.

The New York Times reports that CBS News scrambled Friday evening to come up with questions relating to terrorism and foreign affairs for the presidential candidates — questions germane to the Paris tragedy, given its global implications. "The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office," CBS News Executive Editor Steve Capus told the Times

"This is exactly what the president is going to have to face," he said.

He said on Twitter Friday evening, in response to questions about whether the debate would be canceled or postponed:

In Saturday's Des Moines, Iowa, debate, which starts at 9 p.m. Eastern, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton will square off against her most direct competition for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

In recent weeks Sanders has taken strides to highlight his foreign policy experience, and differentiate himself from former Secretary of State Clinton, who is often criticized on the left for her relative hawkishness.

Clinton said recently that as president she would pursue a fight against ISIS, which took responsibility for Friday evening's attacks in Paris, and that she "sees merit in the targeted use of special operations personnel to support our partners in the fight against ISIS, including in Syria."

Sanders has said of President Obama's decision to send special forces to Syria to fight ISIS that he fears the United States will be "drawn into the quagmire of the Syrian civil war."

"The senator believes that the crisis in Syria will be solved diplomatically, not militarily," Sanders said in a statement last month.