(Reuters) - The top four Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidential nomination faced off in a debate on Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire, where votes will be cast in a key early nominating contest on Tuesday.
Here are some memorable quotes from the debate:
HILLARY CLINTON, New York senator and former first lady
“It’s imperative that any actionable intelligence that would lead to a strike inside Pakistan’s territory be given the most careful consideration.”
“And at some point — probably when the missiles have been launched — the Pakistani government has to know they’re on the way. Because one of the problems is the inherent paranoia about India in the region in Pakistan, so that we’ve got to have a plan to try to make sure we don’t ignite some kind of reaction before we even know whether the action we took with the missiles has worked.”
“There cannot be safe havens for stateless terrorists who are in these networks that are plotting to have the proliferation of nuclear weapons and be smuggling into our country or elsewhere the kind of suitcase device that could cause such havoc. ... We have to make it clear to those states that would give safe haven to stateless terrorists, that would launch a nuclear attack against America that they would also face a very heavy retaliation.”
JOHN EDWARDS, former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee
“What should America be doing over the long term to deal with this whole issue of nuclear proliferation? Because if you look at Pakistan, it’s a perfect vehicle for actually thinking about this issue.”
“Here’s an unstable leader, (President Pervez) Musharraf, in a country with a serious radical — violently radical element that could, under some circumstances, take over the government.”
“If they did, they would have control of a nuclear weapon. They could either use it, or they could turn it over to a terrorist organization to be used against America or some of our allies.”
“I think the bigger picture on this is, what do we do over the long term?”
“It would be an enormous mistake for the president of the United States to take a terrible, dangerous situation where millions of Americans or thousands of Americans could have lost their lives, and to ratchet up the rhetoric and make it worse than it already is.”
BARACK OBAMA, Illinois senator
“We should work with the Pakistani government, first of all to encourage democracy in Pakistan so you’ve got a legitimate government that we’re working with, and secondly that we have to press them to do more to take on al Qaeda in their territory.”
“What I said was, if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike.”
“We have to make sure that we do not hesitate to act when it comes to al Qaeda. Because they are currently stronger than they were at any time since 2001, partly because we took our eye off the ball.”
“We would obviously have to retaliate against anybody who struck American soil, whether it was nuclear or not. It would be a much more profound issue if it were nuclear weapons.”
“Part of what we need to do in changing our foreign policy is not just end the war in Iraq; we have to change the mind-set that ignores long-term threats and engages in the sorts of actions that are not making us safe over the long term.”
BILL RICHARDSON, New Mexico governor
“With Pakistan, here is an example of a country, a potentially failed nation-state with nuclear weapons. What a president must do is have a foreign policy of principles and realism.
“And the Bush foreign policy, with Musharraf, we get the worst of all worlds. We had a situation where he has not gone after al Qaeda in his own country, despite the fact that we’ve given him $11 billion. And he’s also severely damaged the constitution. He’s basically said that he is the supreme dictator. So we have the worst of all worlds.
“What I would specifically do as president is I would ask Musharraf to step aside.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney