The Islamic State's deadly terrorist attacks on Paris have sobered a Republican primary campaign dominated by inexperienced outsiders and consumed with cheap personal attacks.
That, at least, is the working theory of veteran Republican political operatives. It makes sense. National security has already playing an outsized role in the GOP nomination fight, and the events of Friday could elevate Republican voters' existing concerns that the homeland is vulnerable to an attack by Islamic radicals. That should boost experienced candidates with foreign policy expertise and a cogent national security strategy that favors aggressive American leadership abroad.
"Thanks to Paris, national security has really become homeland security," Republican pollster Frank Luntz told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.
The question is whether GOP voters really do become laser-focused on national and homeland security, and if so, is a more serious minded primary electorate bad news for the current front-runners, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and billionaire real estate developer and reality television star Donald Trump. Carson can be shaky and confused when discussing foreign policy; Trump often echoes President Obama in claiming that the U.S. can't afford to engage overseas and should recede from global leadership.