As commentary and analysis of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto continues to tumble in, the presidential candidates, in Iowa with less than a week to the first true contest of the campaign, are carefully weighing their reactions. An international tragedy, especially one deeply entrenched in the struggle between democracy and terrorism, at this point in campaign serves as a grave litmus test. A not-so-hypothetical "what would you do?" Here's a sample:
From John McCain:
According to the Washington Post, McCain said that he was the only Republican candidate with the credentials to deal with national security threats posed by Islamic jihadists. McCain said,
"I think my record is clear — 20 years, I've been involved in every national security issue that's faced this nation. And I have the judgment to handle it, and I've proven it."
For more candidates' reactions, please read more.
From Rudy Guiliani:
Also in the Washington Post, Guiliani stated that the assassination serves as another reason why the United States needs to play offense against Islamic terrorism and expand its forces in Afghanistan to block the possible resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He said,
"We need a military that is ready for anything the terrorists might throw at us. The reality is we need a larger military so these things don't become a strain."
From John Edwards:
He was the only candidate who actually spoke with Musharraf, the current President of Pakistan, almost immediately after the assassination. According to MSNBC, Edwards said,
". . . we had a conversation in which I urged him to continue the democratization process. He told me, he gave me his assurances that he intended to do that, and we also spoke about having international independent investigators allowed into the country for transparency purposes, for credibility purposes, and we spoke briefly about the elections.”
And from Barack Obama:
He issued a lengthy statement yesterday to CBS News.
"We’ve been distracted by Iraq. We have not been paying attention to Pakistan for several years and as a consequence we have had a subversion of democracy at the same time we have ignored or at least not dealt with the growing threat of Islamic militants in Pakistan. If anything, Iraq has helped to spur some of the militancy in Pakistan. Now moving forward we have to send a message that we stand strong with the Pakistani people in moving the democratic process forward but we have to continue to press, to deal with this on going chaotic situation with the militants in Pakistan."
Regardless of the content their individual statements, what is made crystal clear by the sheer necessity of making them at all is that whoever wins also wins a whole truckload of global challenges.