This has been the big "elephant in the room" question: the Republican branding of "strong on defense." Did any of the candidates knock this down?
Senator Clinton Senatorially said it is a "disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality" and then dived into policy details. "We haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems ... resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government..."
Senator Dodd also filibustered with boring policy details. "our first responders are not getting the support they deserve. The administration has been resistant in supporting them ... , not building the kind of international support -- stateless terrorism is a multinational problem ... requires a multinational response ... institutions we need to build to effectively engage and fight back against terrorism ... need to have leadership that knows how to build those relationships, to encourage that kind of participation..."
But this is the question. This is, to many, the only question. Why didn't these candidates knock it out of the park?
We would not have been so polite. We would have made Mike Gravel look tame and shy -- shouting and waving our arms. We would have said:
This country was attacked on 9/11 and Americans died because this Republican administration was weak, not strong.
New York firefighters died because Rudy Giuliani was incompetent, and far from a hero.
The facts are clear. The Republicans market the myth. The Democrats deal in the reality of serving their country on the battlefield when they're young and keeping this country safer when they serve in Washington."
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From the debate transcript:
Senator Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, a friend of yours from back home, said this past week, quote: "The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us." Another quote: "America will be safer with a Republican president." How do you think, Senator, it happened that that notion of Republicans as protectors in a post-9/11 world has taken on so?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, Brian, I think that, as a senator from New York, it is something that I've worked on very hard ever since 9/11 to try to convince the administration to do those things that would actually work to make us safer. And I think there's a big disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality.