From NBC's Andy Merten
It's slightly counter-intuitive that Obama could sound more hawkish than McCain, but when it comes to Pakistan, that may be the case. Last night at his Wisconsin victory speech in Columbus, Ohio, McCain came out swinging against what he perceives as the Illinois senator's naiveté of international affairs and world events.
Providing a potential sneak preview of his general election talking points, he asked, "Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan?" The likely nominee's comments referenced a counter-terrorism policy speech that the presidential hopeful gave in August in Washington, DC. While lamenting what he perceived as the Bush administration's misguided war in Iraq and its distraction from al-Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Illinois senator struck an offensive tone.
"Let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains, that murdered 3,000 Americans," he said, continuing with resolve: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-valued terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."
Obama at the time was talking about attacking known al-Qaeda terrorist targets, not suggesting mounting an attack on the country or government of Pakistan. Still, he caught flak shortly thereafter from some on both sides of the aisle for discussing the merits of attacking a sovereign ally.
And McCain saw no distinction, while speaking with reporters, today. "That's still bombing Pakistan," he said when pressed on the topic. McCain then sidestepped, discussing the merits of diplomacy. "The first thing you do is you don't tell people what you're going to do; you make plans, and you work with the other country that is your ally and friend, which Pakistan is."