DENISON, Iowa – Hillary Clinton appears to be the presidential candidate who best knew Benazir Bhutto, and Clinton wasted no time today offering somber condolences to Bhutto’s family and the people of Pakistan.
But aside from any issue of foreign policy know-how or decorum in the face of tragedy, the senator’s remarks – or rather the way they have evolved over the course of the day -- seemed telling about her reluctance to get personal or emotional.
At her first campaign stop this morning, in Lawton, Clinton noted that she had known Bhutto for a dozen years. “I knew her as a leader, I knew her as someone who was willing to takes risks to pursue democracy on behalf of the people of Pakistan,” she said.
But she didn’t say anything about her personal relationship with Bhutto, and the press corps wanted more, especially since other candidates were giving interviews on the topic.
After the event, as Clinton was shaking hands, a television producer asked her twice, “Senator, were you moved by Bhutto’s death?”
She ignored him. Aides said she refused to capitalize on the tragedy. (And she generally ignores questions from the press while she’s working the rope line.)
But a few hours later at a fire station here in Denison, Clinton offered a much more personal reminiscence. She described how as First Lady, she and her daughter Chelsea visited Bhutto and Bhutto’s family in Pakistan when she was prime minister.
“We stayed in touch throughout the years,” she said. “We met on several occasions, always talked about her commitment to bringing democracy back to Pakistan, and we talked about our children.”