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Biden Stresses Foreign Policy Credentials Following Bhutto Death

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Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) describes to washingtonpost.com's Ed O'Keefe his recent conversations with Benazir Bhutto, and says results in Iowa will propel his campaign into the top-tier. Video by Jacqueline Refo/washingtonpost.com

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Ed O'Keefe
washingtonpost.com
Friday, December 28, 2007; 3:24 PM

ADEL, Iowa -- In the wake of the murder of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) asserted today that he was the best qualified Democratic presidential candidate to handle unexpected global crises.

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Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is trailing badly in the polls less than a week before the Iowa caucuses. But he is hoping that voters will take a closer look at him and his foreign policy credentials in light of the turmoil in Pakistan.

"I think the American people are looking first and foremost for a commander-in-chief," He said during an interview for washingtonpost.com's PostTalk video program. "I think the only qualified person on the Republican side would be [Sen.] John McCain, and I'd respectfully suggest I'm the most qualified on the Democratic side."

Biden has long warned that Pakistan, a nuclear power and a breeding ground for Al Qaeda terrorists, is one of the most dangerous places on earth. He said that personal conversations with Bhutto kept him abreast of secret diplomatic efforts that helped her return to Pakistan after years of political exile, and that Bhutto remained optimistic about her country's political future up until the night before her assassination Thursday.

Bhutto "laid out for me in stark detail the kind of security she needed," following her return to Pakistan this fall, including the need for armored cars and bomb detection devices, Biden said. He said that she was concerned that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf "was not likely to essentially keep an open pledge made that there would be protection for her," and she was "very very upset about [Musharraf's] imposition of essentially martial law."

"I've been the only one saying the single-most dangerous relationship and complicated relationship we have in the world is Pakistan," Biden said, adding that while others discussed the threat of Iraq or Iran during recent presidential debates, "I'd be in the corner saying woah woah Pakistan."

Following the interview at the Adel Town Hall with PostTalk, Biden spoke to roughly 80 residents, reminding the audience of his concerns about Pakistan.

"I'm telling you folks I'm getting nervous about this. The next president better be just as smart as his secretary of state," Biden told the crowd.

Biden said he remains confident with six days to go until caucus day, despite his consistently weak showing in the polls. "The expectations for me to meet coming out of Iowa¿ are in fact to come in third or a close fourth," he said. "All of the national coverage has gone to the people with the money. What will happen overnight if I exceed these expectations is I will be covered. Once I'm covered, I'm convinced: me matched against Obama, me matched against Hillary, me matched against anyone else, I will do just fine."


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