Despite the Bhutto assassination throwing US policy into deep flux, most candidates realised that their immediate responses should simply mirror the statements of President Bush and other world leaders - expressing shock and sympathy at the tragic news and pledging to redouble efforts for democracy and against terrorism.
Still, Mike Huckabee messed it up, bizarrely apologising for the assassination, before correcting his remarks later.
Fred Thompson was particularly concerned to make sure that people around the world didn't get the wrong idea from the apology.
With more time to consider, Huckabee put up a policy argument. The Bhutto assassination showed why the US needed to build a border fence with Mexico to keep out Pakistanis.
“We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country", he said.
Further clarifications defending these remarks did not seem to clarify much.
Mitt Romney had picked a bad day to argue that foreign policy experience doesn't matter all that much, though stressing the Reagan rather than the Dubya precedent to make his case:
“If the answer for leading this country is someone that has a lot of foreign policy experience, we can just go down to the State Department and pick up any one of the tens of thousands of people who’ve spent all their life in foreign policy.
Rudy Giuliani and John McCain stressed the opposite message to highlight their own experience.
On the Democrat side, the issue played to Hillary Clinton's experience on the international stage. Her personal relationship with Bhutto allowed her to stress that she will be ready on "day one" for the international demands of the Presidency. Perhaps for that reason, the Obama camp took an aggressive approach, bringing the issue back to the question of judgment over Iraq, sparking controversy about comments by Obama's strategist David Axelrod, who seemed to imply that Clinton's support of the Iraq war had contributed to the causes of the assassination.
Meanwhile, John Edwards placed a personal call to President Musharraf himself to press the case for democratic reform.
UPDATE: CNN quotes Huckabee campaign staff, explaining that his immigration comments were intended to distract attention from the fact that he has "no foreign policy credentials". Let's hope Iowa and New Hampshire care more about foreign policy experience than that.