There are few positions that stand out: for the most part Democrats repeat the charge from 2004 that President Bush is to blame for refusing to engage directly with North Korea in bilateral talks, Republicans generally holding back from criticizing the six-party forum even while criticizing the agreement it produced. (And yet it seems that Chris Hill has chucked the “no direct talks” policy out the window, so why even bother discussing the merits of one forum versus the other? The US is doing both, now.) Overall, there seems to be little sense of how North Korea fits in the East Asian puzzle, Joseph Biden aside.
One can conclude two things from this: either the crop of presidential candidates is extraordinarily weak as far as Asia is concerned or the ability of the US to induce or coerce North Korea to surrender its nukes is at low ebb (or both). Thankfully there is a good crop of Asia hands — who will hopefully make up for the glaring deficiencies of the candidates — waiting to move into office once this administration finally whimpers to a close.