DES MOINES — The chief strategist of Senator Barack Obama’s campaign said Thursday that the assassination of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto “underscores the case for judgment” when voters begin to select their presidential candidates next week.
The strategist, David Axelrod, said voters should take into consideration that the Iraq war led to the rise of terrorist activity and political instability in Pakistan. Mr. Axelrod said that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton backed the Iraq war in 2002, while Mr. Obama did not.
“She was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Al Qaeda, who may have been players in this event today,” he said, according to Time.com. “So that’s a judgment she’ll have to defend.”
Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, responded, saying the situation should not be politicized. “This is a time to be focused on the tragedy of the situation, its implications for the U.S. and the world, and to be concerned for the people of Pakistan and the country’s stability,” Mr. Singer said in a statement.
In a telephone interview on Thursday evening, Mr. Axelrod said it was indisputable that the war took the United States’ attention away from fighting terrorists in Pakistan.
“I think she should be held accountable as everyone should who was involved in that vote for a flawed policy,” Mr. Axelrod said. “That’s a long way from saying that she bears responsibility for the events of today. That would go too far.”