US Presidential candidates offer condolences to family of Benazir Bhutto

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007

The United States Presidential candidates offered condolences to Benazir Bhutto's family and to the country of Pakistan today. Multiple candidates offered up messages about this former foreign leader.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack as she was leaving a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi. At least 20 people died in the attack, local reports say. The attack has been condemned internationally.

Slate columnist John Dickerson commented that "Moments after former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's death was announced, I was getting e-mails from campaign aides, political obsessives, and the campaigns themselves. The candidates are quick to express their sadness, of course, but everyone is moving so fast because they're trying to muscle into the news cycle more than ever. There's only a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, and this murder lands right in the middle of a key issue in both parties. The ability to react to unpredictable news in a crazy world is at the heart of both primary debates."

Biden

Democratic Senator Joe Biden was first, holding a press conference at noon EST today, at the Des Moines Marriott hotel, solely to speak on the topic.

Cquote1.svg 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. Her assassination makes it all the more urgent that Pakistan return to a democratic path.

This fall, I twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto and other political leaders – I wrote him before her return and after the first assassination attempt in October. The failure to protect Ms. Bhutto raises a lot of hard questions for the government and security services that must be answered.

I know that Benazir’s followers will be tempted to lash out in anger and violence. I urge them to remain calm – and not play into the hands of the forces of destruction. I urge Pakistan’s leaders to open a fully accountable and transparent investigation. We must find out who was behind this and bring those responsible to justice. And the United States should offer any assistance necessary, including investigative teams, to get to the bottom of this horror.

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.

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Brownback

U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, formerly the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee with responsibility for Southeast Asia, commented:

Cquote1.svg I offer my deepest condolences for the loss of Benazir Bhutto and to the families of those killed today. This is a terrible loss to her supporters, the people of Pakistan and for democracy. I hope and pray that that the people of Pakistan and President Musharraf can avoid further bloodshed and continue down the road to democracy. Pakistan has been a good friend to the United States in fighting fundamentalist terrorism, and I sincerely hope we can continue to work together. Pakistan needs to continue to work toward a peaceful, stable and democratic nation if they hope to maintain our strong friendship. Cquote2.svg

Clinton

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton commented from western Iowa:

Cquote1.svg Today the world once again is reminded of the dangers facing those who pursue democracy and free elections, in Pakistan and elsewhere in areas that are rife with conflict and violence and extremism and anti-democratic forces at work. I have known Benazir Bhutto for a dozen years and I knew her as a leader. I knew her as someone willing to take risks.

I hope that if there is any opportunity for the government and people of Pakistan to respond to this tragedy appropriately, it would be to move more steadfastly and determinately toward democracy. She has given her life for that hope, and I know that the people of our country stand in solidarity with those who believe as we do in the rights of people to be heard at the ballot box.

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Dodd

26-year-member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Chris Dodd commented:

Cquote1.svg "Today's news from Pakistan is both shocking and saddening. 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.

At this critical time we must do everything in our power to help Pakistan continue the path toward democracy and full elections. Our first priority must be to ensure stability in this critical nuclear state.

The United States should also stand ready to provide assistance in investigating this heinous act. And as Pakistan perpetrators to justice, it should also demonstrate that it will not allow such violence to derail democracy and proceed with elections in a timely manner.

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Huckabee

On his blog, former Arkansas Governor Republican Mike Huckabee commented:

Cquote1.svg 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.

Benazir Bhutto's assasination should also stand as a stark reminder for those who doubt the nature of our enemy.

I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life. They have sworn to annihilate each of us who believe in a free society, all in the name of a perversion of religion and an impersonal god. We go to great extremes to save lives, they go to great extremes to take them. This war is not a conventional war, and these terrorists are not a conventional enemy. We must fight the war on terror with the intensity and single-mindedness that it deserves.

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Kucinich

Democrat Dennis Kucinich commented:

Cquote1.svg This is a very dangerous moment for the world. Prime Minister Bhutto represented the forces of reform and the hope for an end to repression in a troubled region, and her death is a major loss to those efforts.

This terrible tragedy also underscores the need for the United States to adopt a new foreign policy toward the entire region because our current policy is all wrong. Our interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan has opened wide the doors of repression and violence. At this very moment, we should be working with leaders of the region to convene a meeting at the highest levels to begin a new effort towards stabilization and peace.

The United States must take a new direction in Pakistan and throughout the region. I met her several times, both in Washington and New York. She was deeply and genuinely dedicated to Pakistan. This is a tragic loss.

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McCain

Republican John McCain commented:

Cquote1.svg The death of Benazir Bhutto 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. Given Pakistan’s strategic location, the international terrorist groups that operate from its soil, and its nuclear arsenal, the future of that country has deep implications for the security of the United States and its allies. America must stand on the right side of this ongoing struggle. Cquote2.svg

Romney

Republican Mitt Romney commented moments after the attack:

Cquote1.svg This points out again the extraordinary reality of global violent radical jihadism. We don't know who is responsible for this attack, but there is no question that the violence we see throughout the world is violence which is not limited to Iran—excuse me, Iraq—and Afghanistan but is more global in nature. Cquote2.svg

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