Hillary Clinton: What Was She Thinking?

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Hillary Clinton makes the, uh, interesting argument that her experience fighting off Republican attacks has made her the best equipped candidate to deal with terrorist ones. She also seems to be conceding–and amplifying–Karl Rove’s point that voters won’t trust Democrats to deal with terrorism:

“It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself, ‘What if? What if?’ But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world,” Clinton told supporters in Concord.
“So I think I’m the best of the Democrats to deal with that,” she added.

Amazingly, Chris Dodd is the only one of her Democratic opponents to jump on this one:

“Frankly, I find it tasteless to discuss political implications when talking about a potential terrorist attack on the United States.”

Clinton used to think that, too, as Kit Seelye points out over at the New York Times blog, The Caucus:

Mrs. Clinton has said before that she perceives the threat from terrorists as real, but she rarely frames it in partisan terms. She was among the Democratic candidates howling in April when Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, said in New Hampshire that Democrats “do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us” and that if a Democrat were elected president, the country would suffer “more losses.”

At the time, Mrs. Clinton said, “We have to protect our country from terrorism — it shouldn’t be a Democratic fight or a Republican fight.”

UPDATE: These takes on Clinton’s comments from Josh Marshall and Matt Yglesias.

UPDATE2: John Edwards weighs in with this statement, which the campaign sent out by e-mail. (I can’t find a link yet on their website.):

Earlier today in New Hampshire, Senator John Edwards made the following comments when asked about Senator Hillary Clinton’s comments yesterday that Republicans would have an advantage if there is another terrorist attack and that she is the best Democrat to deal with that.

“If we’re talking about America being attacked the last thing we should do is be engaged in political calculation. What I would do is focus on uniting America and doing the things I need to do as president of the United States to keep this country safe.”

In response to another question, Edwards said:

“Well first of all, I strongly disagree with what [Senator Clinton] said. [Senator Clinton] has said she believes that we are safer under George Bush, I strongly disagree with that. What I believe is that it is the responsibility of a presidential candidate, a serious presidential candidate, and the president of the United States when you’re talking about something as serious as the potential for America to be attacked, to focus on what’s good for America, not politics, and what needs to be done to keep this country safe, which is what I would do as president.”