Capitol Report: 2020 Democrats charge Trump is risking major Middle East conflict with Soleimani killing

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Democratic presidential candidates including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say President Trump is risking another war in the Middle East with the killing of the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Democratic White House hopefuls charged that President Donald Trump is risking a major conflict in the Middle East with the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, blasting the U.S. commander-in-chief over foreign policy with the formal start of the presidential primary season just a month away.

Soleimani, leader of the foreign wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed early Friday in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. Oil prices CLG20, +3.40% BRNH20, +3.59% skyrocketed and U.S. stocks SPX, -0.77% DJIA, -0.92% COMP, -0.82% sank after news of the general’s killing.

See: Dow tumbles more than 300 points at open after U.S. kills Iranian military leader

The dramatic killing injected a major national-security issue into the 2020 presidential race, with the first voter verdicts coming in Jan. 3’s Iowa caucuses.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that no American would mourn Soleimani’s death but charged that Trump’s decision wouldn’t deter future attacks by Iran.

“President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond,” said Biden, who is leading his fellow Democrats in polls for the nomination. “We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East,” added Biden, a two-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said the Iranian general was planning to kill Americans and should have been “taken out” years ago:

Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners said a continued successful campaign against Iran could bode well for a second Trump term — but he noted a public fatigue in the U.S. toward “endless wars.”

“We doubt that Iraq/Iran will reduce core GOP support for Trump nor will it reduce core Democratic opposition to Trump,” said Callan in a note. “What will matter is how a conflict — if it’s still ongoing in the summer/fall of 2020 impacts voter turnout and how it impacts voters who are independents.”

Also read: Why oil could hit $80 without a ‘full-blown’ U.S.-Iran war

Other 2020 presidential hopefuls similarly criticized Trump.

“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one,” he added.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called Soleimani a murderer who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. But she labeled Trump’s move “reckless” and said it “increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.”

While presidential contenders criticized Trump’s decision and some Democrats in Congress said the president owed Americans an explanation, many congressional Republicans backed up his action.

Read: GOP lawmakers celebrate Soleimani’s death: ‘He was an evil bastard who murdered Americans’

Joe Walsh, the former congressman from Illinois who along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is challenging Trump for the Republican nomination, said the president’s criticism of traditional allies and the U.S. intelligence community had damaged his capacity to carry out his duties as commander-in-chief:

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