WASHINGTON – Senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, the two US democratic presidential candidates, participated in a televised debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday, during which the issue of Iran's nuclear power took center stage. Both candidates said they would respond with force if Iran were to attack Israel.
During the debate, hosted by ABC, the candidates were asked: "Should it be US policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States?"
To this Obama answered: "I have said I will do whatever is required to prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"I believe that that includes direct talks with the Iranians where we are laying out very clearly for them, here are the issues that we find unacceptable, not only development of nuclear weapons but also funding terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as their anti-Israel rhetoric and threats towards Israel.
"I think it is very important that Iran understands that an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, one whose security we consider paramount. It would be an act of aggression that I would consider unacceptable, and the United States would take appropriate action."
On her part, Senator Clinton said: "Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States." She addressed the issue of the region at large, saying she would like to "create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel," referring to diplomatic engagement with Iran that would attempt to end the nuclear threat in the Middle East.
The candidates were also asked whether they thought their opponent could defeat Senator McCain, the republican presidential candidate, in the presidential elections. Both gave a positive answer.
In a poll conducted by the ABC network and The Washington Post, results showed that Americans would not like to see Clinton resign from the race, but 51% of democratic voters said they would like to see Obama face McCain, while only 41% said they would like to see Clinton run against the republican nominee in the presidential elections. 54% of those polled said they had a negative opinion of Clinton.