GOP Taking Unfair Advantage of Biden's "Off-the-Cuff Remarks"
Pro-Obama reporter Larry Rohter followed Sarah Palin to a rally in Reno for a Tuesday evening nytimes.com post, "Palin Again Seizes on Biden's "Tests" Remark."Strange remarks, whose impact Rohter tried to downgrade by claiming they were"off-the-cuff."
Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin on Tuesday stepped up her party's attacks on Senator Barack Obama's credibility on foreign policy and national security issues, seizing on remarks that Senator Joseph Biden made Sunday in which he cautioned that if Mr. Obama is elected, "it will not be six months before the world tests" him.
"Thanks for the warning, Joe," Ms. Palin said sarcastically at a morning rally here. She added: "I want a president who's ready on Day One. I want a president with the experience and the judgment and the wisdom to meet the next international crisis - or better yet to avoid it. I want John McCain as our commander in chief."
Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice-president and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made his prediction of "an international crisis, a generated crisis," just hours after Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Mr. Obama, saying that the Democratic candidate offered a "calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach" to the nation's problems, domestic and foreign.
Republicans appear to regard Mr. Biden's off-the-cuff remarks at a Democratic fund-raising event as an ideally timed gift that they can use to mitigate the political damage of General Powell's endorsement, and have been emphasizing the Biden statement ever since. On Tuesday, they distributed excerpts from Ms. Palin's speech here to reporters in advance of the event, a sign of the emphasis they attach to the issue.
Rohter didn't fully spell out Biden's supposedly "off-the-cuff remarks." He actually said them twice, on Saturday in San Francisco and Sunday in Seattle.
Here's Biden on Saturday in San Francisco:
Mark my words. Within the next, first six months of this administration, if we win, they're going to - we're going to face a major international challenge. Because they're going to want to test him, just like they did young John Kennedy. They're going to want to test him.
Here's Biden on Sunday in Seattle:
Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking...Remember I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.
Note to Rohter: If you say the exact same thing twice in two days, it's not "off-the-cuff."
Rohter got in a kick at Palin:
Curiously, another of the potential crisis detonators that Ms. Palin cited, Pakistan, is one in which her position initially seemed to coincide with Mr. Obama's and contradict her running mate's. On the campaign trail in Pennsylvania last month, Ms. Palin said, speaking of the possibility of a unilateral air strike inside Pakistan, "if that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should."
That led to questions about the apparent discrepancy with Mr. McCain, who responded that her remark should not be seen as "a definitive policy statement." He added: "She understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest and we are not going to, quote, announce it ahead of time."
Rohter implied that Biden was being taken out of context, and that his "quite extensive" remarks at the Seattle fundraiser somehow justified his striking statement, but doesn't explain how:
Ms. Palin and other Republicans, including Rudy Giuliani, have focused on only a small part of Mr. Biden's comments at the Sunday fund-raiser. His remarks were actually quite extensive, touching on both the economy and foreign policy, especially the danger that Osama bin Laden, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and a nuclear Pakistan present to American interests.
"You literally can see what these kids are up against, our kids in that region," Mr. Biden, referring to an incident in which his helicopter was forced down due to a snowstorm. "The place is crawling with al Qaeda. And it's real."