Council Bluffs, Iowa - Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden took the occasion of the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto to chide his Democratic rivals as too inexperienced to be president and to tout his own foreign policy credentials.
"Observe what's been going on in Pakistan and you'll see not many candidates have spoken out," Biden said. "And those few who have spoken don't make a lot of sense."
Biden made his remarks Thursday night to an audience of about 150 supporters gathered at the Elks Lodge in this small city abutting Nebraska.
Biden didn't single out any of his rivals by name in deriding their statements on Pakistan. But calling "nuclear-riddled" Pakistan an "emerging, urgent crisis," the veteran Delaware senator suggested that among the Democratic contenders he alone was best suited to deal with dangerous global affairs.
In a post-event interview with The Huffington Post, Biden at first refused to specify which candidate he was referring to when he said they weren't making sense on Pakistan. He noted that front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom issued brief statements earlier in the day lamenting Bhutto's murder, were "both good people" but didn't have his breadth of foreign policy experience.
When further pressed on the issue, Biden singled out second-tier candidate Bill Richardson as an example of a candidate putting forth simplistic responses to the Pakistani crisis. "Richardson said that [Pakistani President] Musharraf should step down and make way for a coalition government," Biden said. "But what coalition? There isn't any. What's he talking about?"
The assassination of Bhutto, Biden told HuffPost, was one more symptom of what he called a "dyslexic" U.S. foreign policy. "We've got things backwards," he said. "Our policy in Afghanistan where we haven't devoted enough resources to fight Al Qaeda has only encouraged the same extremists in Pakistan."
Biden devoted most of his two-hour appearance to lengthy presentations of various "Biden plans" to solve thorny international issues.
"You know a lot of people make jokes about me running really running for Secretary of State," he told the crowd who peppered him with questions on foreign policy issues ranging from Russia to the Middle East to Afghanistan. "I'm not. I'm running for President. But I would ask you: 'How many of you are willing to vote for a candidate not able to be Secretary of State?'"
"I know many of the world leaders for the last 30 years. Not because I'm and important guy. But because I came up with them," he said referring to his long-time leadership position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It's not hyperbole to suggest the rest of the world is waiting for an American president to be elected who can connect the dots. And I can."
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