Candidates React to Bhutto News
While they are making their way from town hall meetings to rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire, candidates from both parties expressed sympathy for the Bhutto family and concern about the terrorist threat worldwide following the news from Pakistan that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today at a political rally.
The majority of the campaigns have released statements on Bhutto's death:
"We are still learning the details of today's tragic events in Pakistan, but this is a stark reminder that America must not only stay on high alert, but remain actively engaged across the globe," Mitt Romney said in his statement, adding "At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go to the family of Benazir Bhutto, and to all the people of Pakistan who are fighting against extremist forces that would commit such heinous acts as the whole world has witnessed today."
From Sen. Barack Obama: "I am shocked and saddened by the death of Benazir Bhutto in this terrorist atrocity. She was a respected and resilient advocate for the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people. We join with them in mourning her loss, and stand with them in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world."
Sen. John McCain's statement expressed his condolences for the Bhutto family and said that he had made "numerous visits to Pakistan" and "seen first hand the many challenges that face the political leadership there, challenges so graphically portrayed by today's tragedy." McCain also noted that Bhutto's death "underscores yet again the grave dangers we face in the world today and particularly in countries like Pakistan, where the forces of moderation are arrayed in a fierce battle against those who embrace violent Islamic extremism."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who noted that he had met with Bhutto several times over the years, said Bhutto "represented a courageous effort to bring principles of liberty to Pakistan. She was truly dedicated to the people of Pakistan."
From Gov. Bill Richardson's statement: "Benazir Bhutto was a courageous woman. Her death, and the deaths of so many of her supporters, is more than just a tragedy. It is a testament to the will of the Pakistani people to see democracy restored. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died today."
Sen. Chris Dodd noted his personal connection to the murdered leader: "As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have had the opportunity to travel to Pakistan and come to know Former Prime Minister Bhutto very well over the years. I spoke to her personally several weeks ago and have stayed in close contact with her since. She was a respected leader who played an important part in moving Pakistan toward democracy. As we recognize the loss of a leader today, we must also recognize the implication of today's tragedy to the security of the region and to that of the United States."
Said former senator John Edwards: "Benazir Bhutto was a brave and historic leader for Pakistan. Her assassination is a sad and solemn event, and our hearts go out to her family and to the Pakistani people. But we will not let this contemptible, cowardly act delay the march of progress in Pakistan for a single second. I have seen firsthand in Pakistan, and in meetings with Prime Minister Bhutto and President Musharraf, the instability of the country and the complexity of the challenges they face....We should do everything in our power to help bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice and to ensure that Bhutto's movement toward democracy continues."
Mike Huckabee weighed in: ""I am deeply troubled by the news accounts this morning of Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination in a suicide attack. This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation. The terrible violence surrounding Pakistan's upcoming election stands in stark contrast to the peaceful transition of power that we embrace in our country through our Constitution. On this sad day, we are reminded that while our democracy has flaws, it stands as a shining beacon of hope for nations and people around the world who seek peace and opportunity through self-government."
And Joe Biden issued a heartfelt and lengthy statement along with a copy of a letter he, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Patrick Leahy sent to Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharraf in October, urging greater security for Bhutto in the wake of "the October 18 suicide attack during a rally welcoming Pakistan Peoples Party leader Benazir Bhutto."
From Biden's statement: "This is a terrible day. My heart goes out to Benazir Bhutto's family, friends and followers.
"Like her father before her, Benazir Bhutto worked her whole life - and gave her life - to help Pakistan become a democratic, secular and modern Muslim country. She was a woman of extraordinary courage who returned to Pakistan in the face of death threats and even after an assassination attempt the day of her return, she did not flinch. It was a privilege to know her these many years and to call her a friend.
"I am convinced Ms. Bhutto would have won free and fair elections next week. The fact that she was by far Pakistan's most popular leader underscores the fact that there is a vast, moderate majority in Pakistan that must have a clear voice in the system....
"The way to honor Benazir Bhutto is to uphold the values for which she gave her life: democracy, moderation and social justice. I join with the Pakistani people in mourning the loss of a dear friend."
Former senator and GOP candidate Fred Thompson discussed Bhutto's death during a television interview today.
"It reminds us that things can happen in faraway places of the world that can affect the United States," he said. "I think this should be of great concern to us. It is almost a perfect storm in a very bad sense because two forces are operating against each other that are both desirable. One is democracy: they were making progress in that regard in that country. Former prime minister Bhutto was an important part of that process. But the other is stability. Pakistan is a nuclear country, and we cannot afford to let nukes fall into the hands of dangerous Muslim radicals."
Washington Post editors
December 27, 2007; 12:06 PM ET
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