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Bayh: Death shows need for experience

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli and Athena Jones
MANCHESTER, NH -- In Iowa, when reporters pressed a Clinton campaign spokesman about whether the New York senator she would take any questions from the press about Bhutto's assassination, he said she did not want to be seen as exploiting it.

But that didn't stop Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) -- campaigning here on Clinton's behalf -- from arguing that the assasination showed the need for a president with "seasoning."

Bayh, a red-state Democrat who endorsed Clinton in September, actually learned of Bhutto's killing when one of the two-dozen voters gathered here asked him for his reaction. "There is a deep strain of radicalism," he said, "and this assassination is a manifestation of that."

Bayh then related his experience on a trip to the region with Clinton, saying she had already met several of the leaders the congressional delegation was meeting with. "I have seen firsthand in that very country the knowledge that she brings to the table, the respect with which she is held by people across the political spectrum," he said. "Knowing these individuals, knowing their background, their strengths and their weaknesses, and it just gives you a tremendous leg up in dealing with some of the problems that we face."

He added that in a general election, Republicans would likely raise the specter of international attacks in attempt to garner votes. "When there are unfortunate calamities like this, the Republicans [will say], 'See. See what we told you? We have to have someone who's strong to defend America at a time of concern.' Well, Senator Clinton is strong," he said. "And she's experienced. And she's tough enough to defend this country and do it in a way that's true to our values, the civil liberties we cherish, and that's one of the reasons why I'm supporting her."

Speaking after the event, Bayh again emphasized the need for experience. "I think they know we live in a dangerous world, and tragedies like this just remind us that we need someone with the seasoning, the experience and the strength to be commander in chief during uncertain times," he said. "The job of the next president is not to be entertainer in chief. The job of the next president is to move our country forward to make the substantive changes that will matter in our daily lives, and to protect us in an uncertain and dangerous world. And that's why in a field of very good candidates, I believe Senator Clinton has the right combination of experience and strength to accomplish all of those things."