WASHINGTON—Monday’s debate revealed a divide between Democratic presidential rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over talking to leaders of rogue nations during their first year in office.
Obama, searching for common ground, said he would. Clinton said she would first try a variety of diplomatic steps in order to not be used as a propaganda tool. The differences between them bubbled over to Tuesday as the Obama team tried to reinforce his bona fides as a commander-in-chief--perhaps concerned his answer may have left him looking naive--while taking a swipe at Clinton he did not deliver during the debate over her vote to authorize the war. On Tuesday morning, the Clinton campaign hosted a conference call with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a Clinton advisor.
Said Albright, Clinton’s reply was a “very sophisticated answer which shows an understanding of the whole process." (will be UPDATING with more from call)
Obama’s memo hit Clinton for not demanding an exit strategy when she voted to authorize the Iraq war.
Click below for Obama memo…
Here's the tic-toc: At 11:05 a.m. eastern the Obama campaign distributed a memo asserting Obama won the “commander-in-chief-test,” arriving minutes before Albright call set to start at 11:15 a.m. It’s the start of what may be the second day story of the debate.
From the Obama campaign........
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Obama Communications
RE: Obama Wins Debate and Commander in Chief Test
DA: July 24, 2007
Last night at the debate, Obama displayed the judgment he will exhibit as Commander in Chief that impressed focus groups conducted by both Fox
and CNN. He showed his willingness to lead and ask tough questions on matters of war and he offered a dramatic change from the Bush administration's eight year refusal to protect our security interests by
using every tool of American power available - including diplomacy.
Senator Hillary Clinton, however, did nothing to dispel questions that have arisen as a result of her support for the war in Iraq, even as the National Intelligence Estimate has found that our focus on Iraq has hindered our ability to track down and destroy al Qaeda. When pressed, she gave no explanation for not demanding an exit strategy before we invaded a country riven by deep ethnic rivalries that portended civil war and a long, uncertain occupation. Obama warned of such an outcome in 2002, and said the war would undermine us in the battle against Al Qaeda, as has now proven true.
From the debate -- Obama: ...one thing I have to say about Senator Clinton's comments a couple of moments ago. I think it's terrific that
she's asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to
ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in. And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We failed to do it. And I do think that that is something that both Republicans and
Democrats have to take responsibility for. When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice.
On issues of national security, Obama made clear that making America safer would require using tough diplomacy with countries like Iran and North Korea that have seen dramatic expansions of their nuclear programs
during the seven years of the Bush presidency.
From the debate -- Obama: Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents
like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan
called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood
that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to
this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can
potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we
have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the
first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in
the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and
Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
Earlier this year, Senator Clinton claimed: I think it is a terrible
mistake for our president to say he will not talk with bad people.
[Associated Press, 4/23/07]. She reversed herself last night,
disagreeing with Senator Obama's assertion that we should use every tool
at the president's disposal to address problems before they become
Obama's tough but smart approach to America's diplomacy is exactly the
kind of change and new thinking that excites voters about an Obama
presidency. In the focus group conducted in New Hampshire by CNN,
voters showed they were hungry for this approach.
CNN Reporter Randi Kaye: This line here, this represents the reaction.
A mark above 50 is favorable, below 50 unfavorable and 50 means no
opinion whatsoever. The group rating the debate was made up of
undecided Democrats and nonpartisan independents. Let's turn to the raw
highlights and what we like to call the raw lowlights. One of the
peaks in audience reaction came in response to Barack Obama on the issue
of diplomacy and Iraq. Obama: "Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents
like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time Ronald Reagan called
them an evil empire..." During that answer the meters cruised up to
about 80 or so. The viewers apparently liked his idea of talking with
Syria and Iran to solve problems in Iraq.
The American people choose straight talk over Washington double-speak,
and they know that change must be more than a slogan.