Candidates React To The Bhutto Assassination

Story from The Politico:

This morning’s assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto brought an instant seriousness to the 2008 presidential race, at a stage in the cycle that can be dominated by trivial charges and cheap stunts.

Bloody images of Pakistan in turmoil, which will dominate newspapers and TV news just as Iowa voters are making their final decision and the caucuses are only a week away, will remind voters that this is a dangerous world.

And the aftermath — still very unclear in the chaos surrounding Bhutto’s death — will test the agility of the presidential campaigns in dealing with an unexpected and momentous event; a dry run for daily life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The ultimate impact of Bhutto’s death on the caucuses and beyond is difficult to gauge.

Iowa voters have tended in the past to be parochial, and the news media have a short attention span, especially for international stories.

Still, the instant conventional wisdom will say that heavy news coverage of the gun and bomb attack will bolster the arguments of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both members of the Armed Services Committee.

I’m wondering if news like this will bring terrorism back to the forefront in voters’ minds. This is shame but Bhutto herself knew her life was in constant danger.

Just yesterday, Clinton said in Iowa: “You never know what may happen in some part of the world that will create a real challenge to us here at home, here in Iowa.”

Clinton also just unveiled a new ad, which opens with the image of a soldier’s empty helmet and the words, “A nation at war.”

It casts Clinton as “a leader with a steady hand.”

McCain’s supporters see him as the adult in the race — someone who has more than a theoretical grasp of national security. At rally in Urbandale, Iowa, on Thursday, McCain said the “winners” in the “tragic” assassination of Bhutto are the “radical Islamic extremists.”

McCain has a lot of credibility on terrorism for Republicans, however, I’d expect to see Giuliani comment as well. Hillary seems to have the most credibility on the Democratic side in the minds of voters.

This will further hurt Obama in my opinion as he’s seen with little foreign policy experience.

Most of all though I offer prayers and condolences to Bhutto’s family. She was a courageous woman in standing up for freedom but it often comes with a hefty price.

Update

John Edwards has apparently spoke on the phone with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Story from CBS News:

WAUKON, IOWA — John Edwards reacted to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto this afternoon in Iowa.

“She was an extraordinary and courageous woman who obviously cared more about democracy and the people of Pakistan and the children of Pakistan than she did about the great risk to her own life,” Edwards said. “She served her country admirably as others had. And she had gone back to Pakistan for the purpose of promoting the democratization of Pakistan which is a noble cause.”

I have a call in to President Musharraf who I also know. I want to talk to him about the importance of continuing on the path to democratization.

Since that time he has actually spoken to Musharraf according to Fox News which begs the question, why on earth is he speaking to him? I completely agree with his statements but I call this a political stunt to appear as though he is the most ready to lead the country in times of international crisis. Edwards is going to reveal the contents of their conversation later today at an event in Iowa. Can you say “media stunt”? Of course everyone will be covering his speech to hear what they discussed.

However, so far I agree with all the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, as they’ve all said good things about Bhutto and condemned this act. The Hill has more reactions from candidates here if you’re interested.

Will update later with more information.