November 15th, 2007
09:21 PM ET
7 years ago

Dems take tough line on Musharraf

Watch Sen. Biden discuss the situation in Pakistan.

(CNN) - Asked in Thursday night's debate about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's recent moves against democracy in his country - which included suspending the constitution - the Democratic hopefuls for the presidential nomination took a universally tough line, saying they would mount pressure on Musharraf to switch course.

For all, it was an opportunity to demonstrate a toughness in dealing with overseas leaders and a commitment to fundamental democratic principles.

Yet there was an important distinction among them: whether U.S. aid for Pakistan should be contingent on moves toward democracy.

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware said he told Musharraf himself, and also said on the floor of the Senate, that certain military aid should be taken away "if he did not take off his uniform" - meaning renounce military control while remaining the nation's president. "I would use that leverage," he said.

But Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said he disagrees with imposing such conditions, given how crucial Pakistan is in combating al Qaeda. "When you take the oath of office (for the presidency) January 20th, you promise to do two things: protect and defend the United States and protect yourselves from enemies foreign and domestic," he said.

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York said she agrees that "the first step is to protect America."

She also said a democratic Pakistan would mean heightened security for the United States. "That's what is so tragic about this situation. After 9/11, President Bush had a chance to chart a different course both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and could have been very clear about what our expectations were. We are now in a bind. And it is partly, not completely, but partly a result of failed policies of the Bush administration."

– CNN's Josh Levs


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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. John Rye, NY, NY

    Let Pakistan resolve it's own issues. We are talking about Pakistan restoring its constitution; when we in America have violated the constitution in the name of "War on Terror". I don't have to list the examples, do I? Let us be an example to the World, but so far we have not only show our hypocrisy, but also our ignorance in understanding the entire problem of why the World hates us!

    November 15, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  2. bprossersme

    Hillary – the first step is to protect America. If the Democrats believe that someone needs to fill in acid-tongue Harry Reid and floppy Nancy Pelosi and tell them to get off their collective lazy arses and get the money needed to support our troops to the President! Those two are history.

    November 16, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  3. Ann ME

    Musharraf stood with the United States when we needed it. I do not understand this opinion now that he's a threat. Seems like Biden and Clinton enjoy using their bullying tone a little too much for a President.

    November 16, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  4. Cheryl, Boston, MA

    Quite clear that Biden is the only one who clearly could restore not only democracy domestically, but then perhaps give us back our FACE internationally. Even if he is one of the "boys", I trust he could get the job done from both sides of the isle handedly.

    Interesting how the rest of the candidates on stage for the past few debates fully embrace, vote for, and echo for Biden's hard work in the senate. I fail to understand what they have all been doing besides collecting money to win the Media's vote! And Hillary doesn't even know what a middle class income is...good grief. She scares me but good. Not the woman I plan on voting for. I cannot throw my vote away to play that card. She is very much bought by the global industries, when they shut her up when she naively went after the insurance groups first time out. The got her good–in exchange for her chances now-very clearly so.

    Brrrrr.

    Biden is part of the machine that I understand at least. And he would get us back our world face for a breather anyway.

    November 16, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  5. spinstopper

    Hillary said Human Rights were not as important to her as National Security.

    Whose human rights? Ours??

    November 16, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Ms. L

    Do we have to start bothering Pakistan now? I thought we were busy righting wrongs in AFGHANISTAN.

    November 16, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |