February 1, 2008 in Nation/World

Bipartisan group wants more focus on issues

Warren P. Strobel McClatchy

Different approaches

The leading presidential candidates have approached the nuclear-materials issue in different ways:

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., says she’d further reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and has introduced legislation to accelerate the government’s efforts against nuclear terrorism.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., says on his campaign’s Web site that “the gravest danger to the American people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon.” He promises to secure the world’s loose nuclear materials within four years.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has stressed a ballistic-missile defense to stop attacks from a rogue nation.

Republican Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has focused on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, although experts question whether Iran, if it obtained a nuclear weapon, would share it with terrorists.

WASHINGTON – Presidential candidates from both parties should tell voters what they plan to do about the threat of nuclear terrorism, global climate change and other crucial threats that have received too little attention in the campaign so far, a bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavyweights said Thursday.

The other issues the group named are U.S.-China relations, human rights and international development.

The Partnership for a Secure America, composed of senior officials from every previous administration since President Ronald Reagan’s, said the next president could repair the battered U.S. global image by addressing those five challenges.

Absent from its list is the war in Iraq and the future of the roughly 155,000 U.S. troops there.

The group is airing a 30-second television ad on the nuclear terrorism issue on major networks in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington from Sunday to Tuesday, when two dozen states hold presidential primaries.

“Notwithstanding the shrillness of the debate regarding foreign affairs in recent years, there really is common ground” on security threats, said Robert McFarlane, who served as Reagan’s national security adviser.

Dealing with such global challenges, he said, “will once more evoke respect for a United States that knows where it’s going.”

The spread of nuclear materials that could be used by terrorists “really is a menace we have to get better control of,” McFarlane said.

The partnership’s board includes Warren Christopher, the secretary of state for President Bill Clinton; William Perry, Clinton’s defense secretary; former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel R. Berger, Anthony Lake and McFarlane; and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., a co-chair of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.

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