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Pakistan and politics on the trail
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Much of Thursday’s campaign coverage gave way to non-stop reporting on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto — but that didn’t seem to take much of the edge off the rough-and-tumble of the race.
One of Barack Obama’s senior strategists, David Axelrod, made remarks – which he later seemed to back away from - that appeared to link the former Pakistani prime minister’s death with Hillary Clinton’s vote on the Iraq war. Joe Biden took a swipe at fellow Democrat Bill Richardson for calling on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to step down. (Richardson is planning a “major speech” on the crisis today in Des Moines). John McCain said he didn’t see how Rudy Giuliani’s post-9/11 experience as mayor of New York “provides one the credentials to address national security issues.” Mitt Romney downplayed the value of McCain’s own national security expertise.
And Mike Huckabee revived the ghost of his almost-forgotten NIE misstep when he seemed to imply Pakistan was still under martial law – which hasn’t been the case for two weeks. (He later said he had known of the change.)
With the huge international news yesterday, a few recent campaign developments fell a bit under the radar. Take the ad wars: After cutting back his spending in the Boston media market that serves a slice of southern New Hampshire, Giuliani has now apparently abandoned the pricey media market entirely. It’s now looking almost certain that he and McCain – who was just crowned the new Republican favorite by Robert Novak – won’t be airing any spots in Iowa before caucus night. And they’ve now been joined on the sidelines by Fred Thompson, who is – at least for the moment – off the air in the Hawkeye State.
Meanwhile, Giuliani’s new 9/11-themed spot – which liberally uses images of New York firefighters, some of whom are actively opposing his presidential bid – would have been a sure headline-grabber any other day.
In the Democratic contest, Obama gave his big close in Iowa. Today, it’s John Edwards’ turn, in a speech that takes direct aim at some of the Illinois senator’s main campaign themes.
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand