Democratic rivals criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday for her comment that a terror attack before the election would help the Republicans.
On Thursday, the New York senator told supporters in Concord that she could defeat any Republican nominee, in part because she already knows how her opponents will go after her and because she is good at handling the unexpected.
“There are circumstances beyond our control, and I think I am better able to handle things I have no control over,” she said. “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,” she said. “So I think I’m the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well.”
Rivals took strong issue with her on Friday.
Talking with reporters in Wolfeboro, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said he would focus on keeping America safe — not scoring political points.
“If we’re talking about America being attacked, the last thing we should do is be engaged in political calculation,” he said. “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.”
Likewise, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said in a statement, “We shouldn’t be thinking about terrorism in terms of its domestic political consequences, we should be protecting the country from terrorists.”
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said in his own statement, “Frankly, I find it tasteless to discuss political implications when talking about a potential terrorist attack on the United States.”
In a response to the criticism, Clinton campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said Friday night, “Senator Clinton was making clear that she has the strength and experience to keep the country safe.”
Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this report.