Second GOP debate to feature foreign policy test

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What to Watch at GOP Debate

If there's an "oops" moment under the klieg lights this year, Wednesday night could be when it transpires.

But the Republican candidates heading into their second presidential primary debate can't say they haven't been warned.

Hugh Hewitt – the widely respected conservative radio talk show host – will assist CNN in the evening's questioning and has already promised to toss tough queries about security and defense at the 11 candidates in the main showdown.

RELATED: There Will Be 11 Candidates In The Next Republican Debate

He's already tripped up the two current GOP front-runners. Donald Trump told Hewitt earlier this month he couldn't identify the names of the leaders of major terrorist groups and confused a question about the Quds force – an elite Iranian military unit – as being about the Kurds, an ethnic group and U.S. ally in northern Iraq. In March, it was Ben Carson who faltered at the hands of Hewitt, misstating that the Baltic states weren't part of NATO.

On Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the two will stand center stage, which means they will likely command the most attention. But the rest of the fleet will also have opportunities to shine or shrivel when cross-examined about their qualifications to be commander-in-chief.

Click through for images of the first GOP debate:

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Main GOP Debate
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Second GOP debate to feature foreign policy test
Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidates arrive on stage for the start of the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. From left are: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump participates in the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland, as Scott Walker is seen at left.. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (C) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks as Scott Walker and Donald Trump listen during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) a nd Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christey participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker (R) speaks with opponent Ben Carson during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John Kasich take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (L) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (C), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (L), and real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) confers with Ohio Governor John Kasich (L) during a break in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Audience members are reflected in a window as Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John Kasich participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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"Everyone's already showed they know what's wrong with [President Barack] Obama's foreign policy. But at this debate, they're going to have to get beyond complaining about leading from behind and saying they'll make America great again," says Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution whom Hewitt has consulted with to formulate debate questions. "Everyone eventually has to answer that Hillary Clinton 3 a.m. phone call."

There's widespread consensus among the Republican slate when it comes to the broad strokes of foreign policy: The Islamic State group must be eradicated. The Iran nuclear deal should be nullified. Military spending ought to rise.

But look for the wonkish Hewitt to try and pin the pack down on specifics and press them to flesh out exactly how they'd accomplish what they're proposing.

SEE MORE DEBATE COVERAGE AT AOL.COM

A possible example: A central tenet of the Iranian nuclear deal is the loosening of international economic sanctions that are stifling the country. If the agreement could be trashed in 2017, how would a Republican president force the Europeans and Russians to reimpose those sanctions?

Another: How does a GOP president accomplish the dual – but conflicting – goals of lifting military spending and reducing the $18 trillion national debt?

"It's not clear to me, as a conservative, those two plans add up," Schake says.

One topic almost certain to arise is defining the U.S. role in the Syrian refugee crisis. On this humanitarian catastrophe, there are discernible divides between the candidates on whether to accept an influx of foreigners fleeing their country due to sustained violence.

Trump last week became an odd bedfellow with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., when he said the U.S. has to allow some Syrian refugees into the country. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also have offered cautious support for a plan to accept Middle Eastern refugees, whereas Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said such a move doesn't "make sense." Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken one of the hardest lines against refugees, arguing that the real focus should be on the Islamic State group, whose reign of terror is among the things causing them to flee.

RELATED: A Glaring Contrast On Iran Among Clinton, Trump and Cruz

Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week", Carson wasn't clear either way, but appeared to oppose permitting refugees to seek safe haven in America, saying doing so "carries extra danger."

The 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon, now second to Trump in almost every primary poll, has thus far relied heavily on medical analogies and his brainpower to deflect questions about his readiness to navigate the globe's most roiling predicaments.

"The thing that's probably most important is having a brain and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly," Carson said during the first debate, prompting audience cheers.

See more of Carson on the campaign trail:

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Ben Carson on the campaign trail
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Second GOP debate to feature foreign policy test
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson gestures while speaking during a town hall at Abundant Life Ministries in Jefferson, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
MT. AYR, IA - JANUARY 22 : Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is introduced during his 'Trust in God Townhall' campaign stop January 22, 2016 in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Carson, who is seeking the nomination from the Republican Party is on the presidential campaign trail across Iowa ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place February 1. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson walks through the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, after holding a town hall. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson smiles during an interview with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during a campaign event at Cobb Energy Center Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks during a town hall meeting at Winthrop University on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Rock Hill, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a rally Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Liberty University Convocation in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. As retired neurosurgeon Carson has risen in the polls, media reports have revisited his accounts of acts of violence as a child, a key part of the redemption story he discusses on the campaign trail. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before speaking at a gala for the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on November 6, 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. Carson has come under media scrutiny for possibly exaggerating his background and other statements he has made recently. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson greets well-wishers during a campaign stop, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 16: Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson (L) eats a piece of pizza while touring the Iowa State Fair on August 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign stop, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson greets audience members after speaking at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Donald Trump could win the November 2016 election. That compares to 6 in 10 who say the same for retired neurosurgeon Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of anti-establishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks outside the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at Iowa State University during a campaign stop, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, left, laughs as he wife, Candy Carson, waves to the crowd after saying a few words to the crowd supporting her husband in front of supporters Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson greets audience members following a town hall meeting, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Carson is promoting a book he has co-authored with his wife Candy Carson entitled 'A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties.' (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Scenes around the the Value Voters Summit on September 25, 2015 in Washington DC. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson takes the stage at the event. Dr Carson speaks to the media after the speach. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attendees wait for Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, to arrive during a campaign stop at the birthplace of the Michigan Republican Party in Jackson, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Carson, the third candidate in the Republican race to have never held elected office, saw his numbers drop following the debate last week. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a presidential forum sponsored by Heritage Action at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson during a speech to the Commonwealth Club public affairs forum Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a rally in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is interviewed in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson stands for a photo with a fairgoer at the Iowa State Fair Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, listens as he attends a service at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Carson will be speaking at the Iowa State Fair, which is expected to host 18 presidential candidates and runs until Aug. 23. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks to hundreds of supporters at the Inaugural Basque Fry at Corley Ranch in Gardnerville, Nev. on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, July 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, right, speaks with pollster Frank Luntz at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, July 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, eats a slice of pizza as he tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Carson doubled down on his assertion that a speech given by President Barack Obama intended to sell the American public on his nuclear deal with Iran contained 'coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association presidential forum, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is greeted by supporters during a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Boone, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, left, talks with Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson speaks at Manchester Community College, Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks in town hall meeting in Baltimore Md., Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Ben Carson announces his candidacy for president during an official announcement in Detroit, Monday, May 4, 2015. Carson, 63, a retired neurosurgeon, begins the Republican primary as an underdog in a campaign expected to feature several seasoned politicians. (Photo/Paul Sancya)
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The only military adviser to Carson his campaign will name is retired Army Gen. Bob Dees, but a spokesman tells U.S. News the candidate has devoted more time to studying foreign policy in the run-up to this debate and will make public more advisers later this year.

Schake says Carson "definitely will have to show" more depth and breadth on foreign policy.

"'I'll ask smart people and use good judgment' is a good first-order answer," she says. "But it doesn't answer, 'What would you do now in Syria?'"

Trump similarly has foregone outlining a sweeping and detailed foreign policy vision, revealing he takes his advisement from newspapers and generals appearing on television. He's also said he'll skip overseas trips during the primary – a common tactic of serious candidates – to keep his focus trained on the problems at home.

Asked if Trump and Carson have proved themselves ready to be commander-in-chief, former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., says "that's a question still to be decided."

"I don't think either one of them has talked in-depth about what they want to do in foreign policy," says Talent, who's now coaching Walker on international issues.

Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor who served as the nation's first secretary of homeland security, thinks Bush has an opportunity to stand out on foreign affairs by exhibiting calm and competency, and by being resolute.

But Bush's rivals have tried to use his placid demeanor against him. Trump has hazed Bush for being "low-energy," while Walker has taken a shot at him for refusing to say he'd shred the Iranian agreement on his first day in office.

"Unlike others, I don't need months or years to mull this over," Walker said in a speech at The Citadel in South Carolina. "I will terminate it on Day One."

Ridge, who has advised Bush on national security, says that remark shows Walker's naiveté.

RELATED: Ted Cruz Will 'Absolutely' Try to Shut Down the Government Again

"I like Scott Walker, but that's red meat, that means nothing. It sounds like, 'I'm gonna build a wall.' [The deal's] done. Tearing up the agreement, it's meaningless, it's rhetorical, it's absurd, it has no effect on how you deal with Iran long-term," Ridge says. "We're not going to be able to impose the sanctions again. No serious person would believe that."

Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who's now holding a host of national security forums across the country, also viewed Walker's rhetoric as unrealistic and thinks Bush has displayed a more responsible approach to Iran.

"One of the best answers I've heard was from Jeb Bush, who said he would ask Europeans to re-engage on sanctions and lay out the gauntlet that he would be willing to deny Iran's access to the reinsurance market in the U.S. and access to our financial institutions, which is huge. To me, that is a walk-that-thing-back approach versus 'rip it up,'" Rogers says. "You have to be able to promote a message of firmness without reactionary rhetoric."

But Walker's harder line juxtaposed with Bush's more methodical approach provides a temperamental contrast for voters to appraise.

"He's a decisive person," Talent says of Walker. "His decision that we should have canceled the Chinese [president's] visit [this month] was bold and correct."

See more of Walker on the campaign trail:

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Scott Walker on the campaign trail
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Second GOP debate to feature foreign policy test
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to supporters at Eureka College during a campaign stop, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Eureka, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., waves as he rides the backroads during a two-day motorcycle tour through the nation's earliest presidential primary voting state, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, in Washington, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sits with a plate of brisket at Bill Miller's Bar-B-Q as he waits to do a TV interview during a campaign stop, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 17: Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (L) holds a pork chop at the Iowa Pork Producers Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 17, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Governor and Presidential candidate Scott Walker delivers keynote remarks at the DuPage County GOP Summer Reception Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 at Carlucci's Restaurant in Downers Grove, Ill.(Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - AUGUST 12: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs a bill approving financing for a new Milwaukee arena on August 12, 2015 at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fields a question during the first Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena on August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent political polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker washes down a 'cheezborger' with a Schlitz beer at the famed Billy Goat Tavern during a campaign stop on July 27, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls have Walker leading all Republican contenders in Iowa but trailing businessman Donald Trump and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, chats with staff as he leaves a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, July 17, 2015. Wisconsins top court killed a criminal investigation of Walkers 2012 election campaign, removing a potential stumbling block to his presidential bid. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, pauses during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, July 17, 2015. Wisconsins top court killed a criminal investigation of Walkers 2012 election campaign, removing a potential stumbling block to his presidential bid. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DAVENPORT, IA - JULY 17: Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker steps off a motor home at a campaign event at Modern Woodman Park on July 17, 2015 in Davenport, California. Walker officially announced that he was seeking the Republican nomination for president earlier this week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 14: U.S. presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at Red Rock Harley-Davidson on July 14, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Walker launched his campaign on July 13, joining 14 other Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential race. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, pauses during his presidential campaign announcement in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., on Monday, July 13, 2015. Walker officially unveiled his White House campaign in the same venue where he celebrated a June 2012 victory as the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election, after successfully confronting organized labor the previous year. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Rubio, another promising contender in need of a breakout moment, has bet much of his campaign on an aggressive foreign policy posture. He is arguably the most fluid speaker on the topic, but will be competing for attention with Cruz – who has invoked some of the most severe language in describing the Iran deal – and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who served 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee and can highlight a portfolio of experience.

Carly Fiorina, who scrapped her way onto the main debate stage this time, has also proved fluent on worldwide hot spots, rattling off the names of world leaders she met globe-trotting as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Her leadership of the CIA's External Advisory Board at the end of President George W. Bush's administration is a lesser-known part of her biography, but her command of the topic is quietly grabbing the attention of the party's foreign policy establishment.

"She sort of surprised me just because I thought she was a corporate person," Rogers says. "I've been very impressed with her grasp and understanding on things you need to show resolution on, and still understanding the nuance of national security."

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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