Posted: February 25, 2008 6:43 PM
Clinton Touts Foreign Policy Cred, Jabs at Obama
Eight days before critical Democratic tests in the Ohio and Texas primaries, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton likened Sen. Barack Obama’s experience on foreign policy to President Bush’s, without mentioning either by name.
“We’ve seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security,” Clinton said during a speech Monday at George Washington University, according to Reuters. “We can’t let that happen again.”
Flanked by a half-dozen retired military officer supporters including former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark, Clinton said “she was the only candidate who could restore a U.S. foreign policy that had the right combination of diplomacy and military might,” ABC News reported.
“The American people don’t have to guess whether I understand the issues or whether I would need a foreign policy instruction manual to guide me through a crisis, or whether I’d have to rely on advisers to introduce me to global affairs,” she said.
News networks devoted little time to Clinton’s foreign policy speech — a move that drew chatter from politics watchers.
“As I type, MSNBC is showing Mike Huckabee’s appearance on Saturday Night Live,” The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder noted. “ABC News Now is in a commercial … CNN is on weather, and Fox News is covering the DNC’s complaint against John McCain. (To MSNBC’s credit, they dipped into the speech for about 20 seconds.)”
Politico noted that the harshest comments in Clinton’s speech were reserved for China.
“She said that for America’s contributions to an uneven trade bargain, ‘We get tainted fish and lead-laced toys and poison pet food in return.’”
Clinton then repeated criticisms of Obama as being too soft on dictators and too hard on Pakistan.
“I will not broadcast threats of unilateral military action against a country like Pakistan just to demonstrate that I’m tough enough for the job,” she said.
“In this moment of peril and promise, we need a president who is tested and ready,” she concluded.
In contrast to Obama’s pledge to meet with the U.S.’s enemies as well as its friends, Clinton levied criticism at Obama for saying he’d meet leaders such as Raul Castro, who officially took over the Cuban presidency from his brother, Fidel Castro, this weekend.
“We simply cannot legitimize rogue regimes or weaken American prestige by impulsively agreeing to presidential-level talks with no preconditions. It may sound good, but it doesn’t meet the real world test of foreign policy,” she said, according to Reuters.
Obama’s foreign policy advisers responded to Clinton’s speech with a media conference call that criticized her stances on Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.
“What is important on day one is to get it right … and unfortunately on three of the key issues that have arisen over the last several years, Sen. Clinton has exhibited the wrong judgment,” Obama adviser Susan Rice said, according to Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.
Monday’s back and forth could signal the start of a larger foreign policy discussion between the two White House hopefuls.
In an article in Monday’s Washington Post, former John Edwards foreign policy adviser Michael Signer opined that the mainstream media has largely ignored candidates’ stances on foreign affairs other than on Iraq this year.
On the matter, CBS News’ Kevin Drum said that the foreign policy contrasts are more far more stark between the two major parties, rather than within them.
“A single subject — Iraq — has dominated the campaign so overwhelmingly that it’s sucked all the oxygen out of the foreign policy debate,” he wrote. “And Iraq is simplicity itself: all the Democrats want to leave and all the Republicans want to stay.”