NBC and CBS filed from the campaign trail. CBS' Jeff Greenfield offered a brief stand-up from the spin room in Iowa after the Republican Presidential candidates debated for the Des Moines Register earlier in the afternoon. The headline was "the dog that did not bark." He had expected a "tough exchange" between Iowa frontrunners Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and none materialized. NBC's Andrea Mitchell turned to the Democratic side to investigate precisely what Hillary Rodham Clinton is referring to when she campaigns on her experience in the White House. "Mixed" was Mitchell's word for her record as First Lady. She was "widely blamed for a healthcare proposal so secretive and complex it died at birth." As for her claim to have been "the face of America" for her husband's foreign policy, Mitchell inquired of Madeleine Albright, a Rodham Clinton supporter, whether Albright, instead, had not been "the face of American foreign policy." "Well, I was Secretary of State and I developed and carried out policy. She was the human face. We were partners."
Question #4 in Katie Couric's series of ten Primary Questions--like #2 last week--focused on fear. That second question asked what candidates were afraid of losing. This one went: "What country frightens you the most?" Last week, Republican Fred Thompson had boasted that he was "afraid of nothing." Now his bravado evaporates. "Iran," he replied because "they have been killing our people for a long time through Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations." He did not attach a number of deaths to that incendiary charge. In all, six of the ten candidates Couric questioned--four Republicans and two Democrats--named Iran. Both Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani asserted, as a fact, that Teheran has a nuclear weapons program. Presumably they offered those soundbites before last week's National Intelligence Estimate found that the weapons development had been suspended four years ago. Pakistan frightens two other Democrats; China frights one; and no nation--but the non-state actor of "radical Islamic extremism"--frightens Republican John McCain.
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