The presidential hopefuls Wednesday both voiced concern about Iran's missile test but displayed how they'd address international events differently.
The presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, said the move demonstrates the need for "effective missile defense now and in the future," that it proves Iran has "dangerous ambitions," and that tougher sanctions are needed.
"Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy," Mr. McCain said.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama called for "direct and aggressive diplomacy with the Iranian regime backed by tougher unilateral and multilateral sanctions."
"It's time to offer the Iranians a clear choice between increased costs for continuing their troubling behavior and concrete incentives that would come if they change course," Mr. Obama said. "As president, I will do everything in my power to eliminate that threat, and that must begin with direct, aggressive and sustained diplomacy."
The politicians also sparred over a 2007 resolution that designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, a measure neither voted on, since both were on the campaign trail.
Mr. Obama opposed the resolution because its language suggested troops in Iraq would be used to counter Iran, and Mr. McCain supported it as a necessary step.
Mr. Obama opposed the resolution because he believed its language pertaining to Iraq was too broad, and has co-sponsored a separate measure in support of the designation. Mr. McCain supported the resolution as a necessary step.
Others who opposed the measure said it was only allowing the Bush administration to beat the drum for war with Iran.
Mr. Obama has sponsored his own bill with several Republican co-sponsors that would direct divestment from Iran and criticized Mr. McCain for not signing on.
A Democratic national security adviser cautioned both candidates Wednesday not to overreact to the missile tests.
"In and of itself, this event doesn't matter that much, though it reminds us of the big issues dealing with Iran," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a defense and national security adviser at the Brookings Institution.
"John McCain has to avoid an overly aggressive rhetoric because that will sound like the continuation of the Bush policy, which eliminates many of our partners in the region," Mr. O'Hanlon told The Washington Times.
"Obama has to avoid sounding like talking to Iran will somehow resolve the core disagreements between the two countries. They both have challenges to address on this issue," he said.