Bhutto Assassination Rocks '08 Race

Even with the carnage in Pakistan, the impact of former Prime Minister Bhutto's assassination on the race for the presidency is considered and weighed.

With a week to go before the crucial Iowa Caucuses, it was inevitable that such an earth shaking event would affect the presidential nominating race in both parties. Who benefits? Who might be hurt?

Conventional wisdom would point to Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton benefitting the most as the American people are once again reminded that terrorism is a threat to the safety and security of the United States. Giuliani is seen by Republicans as the strongest candidate to deal with terrorism while Hillary Clinton's experience is seen as a plus on the
Democratic side.

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.
That last bit may not anticipate what could be happening in the streets of Pakistan in the next couple of days. If violence explodes across the country, Pakistan could very well be on the minds of Iowans as they caucus next Friday.

If so, the candidates most likely to be hurt would be Obama and Huckabee as both are seen as inexperienced in foreign affairs. Today, Obama issued a strong
statement of condemnation:
“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,” said United States Senator Barack Obama.
Inexplicably, Mike Huckabee chose the occassion to do a little nationalistic chest thumping about American democracy:
"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."
In short, not very presidential at all.

The assassination shows how random events can upset the plans of the best organized campaigns and is the reason no one is ruling out any outcome next Friday in Iowa.