Terrorism, virtually absent as a 1992 campaign issue, resurfaced in 1996 when Republican Bob Dole challenged President Clinton. Terrorist attacks in Clinton's first term included the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, and attacks on U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Both candidates used their approach to terrorism to make statements about their governing philosophy.
Dole articulated a hard line on terrorism at the Republican National Convention, framing it as an American military/ security funding issue, rather than a foreign affairs issue: "He [Clinton] believes it is acceptable to ask our military forces to do more with less. I do not. He defends giving a green light to a terrorist state, Iran, to expand its influence in Europe and relies on the United Nations to punish Libyan terrorists who murdered American citizens. I will not… On my first day in office, I will also put terrorists on notice: If you harm one American, you harm all Americans. And America will pursue you to the ends of the earth..."
Clinton, at the Democratic National Convention, framed his approach to terrorism as a foreign policy issue: "We are fighting terrorism on all fronts ... First, we are working to rally a world coalition with zero tolerance for terrorism. Just this month I signed a law imposing harsh sanctions on foreign companies that invest in key sectors of the Iranian and Libyan economies....
"Second, we must give law enforcement the tools they need to take the fight to terrorists... Third, we will improve airport and air travel security...we will install the most sophisticated bomb-detection equipment in all our major airports. We will search every airplane flying to or from America ...every flight, every cargo hold, every cabin, every time."
Clinton won the 1996 election.