Hillary Clinton on Monday warned that Al-Qaeda watched US elections, urging Americans not to risk electing an inexperienced president, in her latest implicit swipe at rival Barack Obama.
In one of her most overt plays of the national security card yet, the senator from New York noted that days after Gordon Brown became British Prime Minister, militants planted bombs which failed to explode.
"I don't think it was by accident that Al-Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister," Clinton said here, referring to two devices which did not go off in London and a car which was crashed into Glasgow airport in June.
"They watch our elections as closely as we do ... they play our allies."
The former first lady's comments day before the New Hampshire primary, in which Obama is poised according to opinion polls to inflict a second damaging defeat on her White House campaign, after his Iowa caucuses victory last week.
"Let's not forget, you are hiring a president not just to do what a candidate says he or she will do in an election," Clinton said.
"You are hiring a president who will be here when the chips are down, and problems pile up, because that's when you really need somebody who knows exactly what has to be done, to make the tough decisions."
"I hope I don't face any of those in my first 100 days, but if it do, I think I will be ready," Clinton said.
Clinton has argued that Obama, a 46-year-old freshman senator from Illinois is too inexperienced to serve as US commander in chief, and held up what she says is her own years of experience at the pinnacle of US public life.
Obama has discounted her claims to have foreign policy expertise, and argued that her foreign policy judgement is faulty, after her vote in the Senate in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq.
Last month, former president Bill Clinton made a pointed reference to the September 11 attacks in 2001, arguing that the next president had to be ready for sudden, national security challenges.
"You have to have a leader who is strong and commanding and convincing enough ... to deal with the unexpected," he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post in New Hampshire.
"There is a better than 50 percent chance that sometime in the first year or 18 months of the next presidency, something will happen that is not being discussed in this campaign," he added.
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