Sunday shows take foreign policy turn

After spending months atop the headlines, healthcare reform will take a back seat to two weighty foreign policy matters on this Sunday’s talk shows.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and several top lawmakers will discuss Iran’s newly revealed nuclear facility and Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s leaked report warning America’s mission in Afghanistan will fail if more troops are not sent.

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Gates has double duty this weekend, appearing on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union” to discuss how the administration will continue to handle the discovery of a previously undisclosed nuclear enrichment site in Iran.

President Barack Obama, appearing at the G-20 summit on Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, called on Iran to dismantle the underground program and prove to the world it will comply with international law.

Gates will also offer a glimpse at the Obama administration’s Afghan strategic review. The president has yet to decide whether or not to send more troops to the war-torn nation, opting to re-tool the military’s overall strategy there before making a determination on troop levels.

Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last week that he will assess the conflict and see “if by sending young men and women into harm's way, we are defeating al-Qaeda.”

“[If] that can be shown to a skeptical audience, namely me… we will do what's required to keep the American people safe,” he added.

Secretary of State Clinton is expected to discuss similar issues during her appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Over on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” her husband and former President Clinton will answer questions on Afghanistan, the economy, and health reform.

In an excerpt of his pre-taped interview released by NBC, Clinton said that news of the Iranian nuclear facilities was a “healthy” step in the process of preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

A number of key senators are set to opine on the best course of action in Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, will talk to Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” The 2008 GOP presidential nominee is pressing Obama to send additional forces to aid allied troops already stationed there.

McCain’s Senate ally Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will sit down with Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.” Graham is also a member of the Armed Services Committee.

On "Fox News Sunday," Senate Select Intelligence Committee members Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) will talk Afghanistan and will most likely be asked about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee member Jim Webb (D-Va.) will join David Gregory on NBC to give their thoughts on how the president should alter the military’s Afghan plan. Look for Gregory to ask the duo how the president should proceed with Iran.

Though Iran and Afghanistan will take up most of the airtime this Sunday, healthcare will gets its due on “State of the Union.” Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) will debate Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) reform plan that started its markup this week. 

Candidates running in New York and Virginia’s high-stakes gubernatorial races also will appear on two Sunday shows.

“Meet the Press” will host New York Gov. David Paterson (D), an incumbent facing a tough re-election battle that became even harder after reports that Obama requested he step aside from the race.

Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) will talk to Fox News’ Chris Wallace about his campaign in a former “red state” that has trended Democratic in recent years.