Senator Hillary Clinton: Sen. Clinton (D-NY) criticized rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in August 2007 for his pledge to pursue Al Qaeda in Pakistan. She called it “a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with Al Qaeda and Taliban.” Clinton foreign policy adviser Lee Feinstein said in December 2007 that Clinton has “has opposed the Bush administration’s coddling of President Musharraf, and stood steadfastly with the people of Pakistan in their struggle for democracy and against terrorism.”
Senator Barack Obama: Pakistan first achieved notoriety in the presidential campaign in summer 2007 when Obama said he believed the United States should hunt Al Qaeda forces in Pakistan. In November 2007, Obama cosponsored a resolution condemning Musharraf’s imposition of a state of emergency, and calling for an investigation into a prior assassination attempt on Bhutto.
John Edwards: Edwards called Bhutto’s death a “contemptible, cowardly act.” In a phone call with Musharraf shortly after the assassination, Edwards said he urged the Pakistani leader to “continue on the path to democratization” and to allow for international investigators to look into her death. In November 2007, Edwards said the United States should use economic and military aid to Pakistan as leverage to “push Musharraf toward open free elections; toward more democratic reform, to more transparency in the way both the government operates and the economy operates” (NYT).
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee’s response to the Pakistani crisis in late December 2007 raised concern in the media about his foreign policy experience. He made erroneous comments about the country’s state of emergency and the number of Pakistani illegal immigrants in the United States (TIME). In general, Huckabee has said the U.S. “failure to engage Al Qaeda in Pakistan seems to be leading inexorably to their attacking us again.” In his Foreign Affairs article, Huckabee called for a policy of “tough love” toward Pakistan, and said as president he will pursue Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Sen. John McCain: Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has advocated continued U.S. cooperation with Musharraf to “dismantle the cells and camps that the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintain in his country.” In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, he warned that the “Talibanization of Pakistani society is advancing,” and said the United States should make “a long-term commitment to the country.” This would include bolstering Pakistan’s security capabilities to enhance “Pakistan’s ability to act against insurgent safe havens.” He also said the United States should “bring children into schools and out of extremist madrassas,” though he did not specify how the United States should approach that task.