CHICAGO (MIDWAY AIRPORT)--Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are tangling over an Iran vote in Iowa mailboxes, with the frontrunners opening a direct mail front for the first time in the campaign.
Obama's campaign announced Tuesday morning that Obama was mailing a rebuttal piece to Iowa voters several days after Clinton sent a glossy mailer to explain her potentially controversial vote to have the State Department declare the Iranian Guard a terrorist organization.
"Barack Obama is the ONLY major candidate for president to oppose both the Iraq War from the very start and the Senate amendment that raises the risk of war with Iran," the front of the Obama mailer stated.
The back is printed with the line, "While other Democrats voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, Barack Obama opposed another Bush foreign policy fiasco."
Obama's drawing attention to his opposition to the Kyl-Lieberman measure, passing in September as an amendment to a Defense Authorization bill on a 76-22 roll call, may lead to some other problems for him because he was absent from the Senate the day of the vote, campaigning in New Hampshire.
Obama may be drawn into some kind of a Clinton trap because he did not speak out against Kyl-Lieberman on the Senate floor or work to revise it to apply diplomatic pressure. Using diplomacy to diffuse an international crisis is a cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy proposals.
Clinton's team is already pouncing on his absence, claiming Obama, when he had a chance, did not lead in the place where he already works--the Senate. Clinton forces will be trying to turn this into a leadership issue.
Obama is trying to fill his experience gap by arguing he alone has the judgement to be president because he opposed the Iraq war in 2002 and Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) voted to authorize the invasion. Obama and Edwards argue that the Kyl-Lieberman amendment could lead the U.S. to an Iranian war.
The Clinton direct mail to voters in the critical early voting state is a bit subtle on this point, but does reference about how she worked on the Senate floor to revise Kyl-Lieberman language until she could vote for it.
In the mailing tailored to Iowa voters, Clinton used a rare split between Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to provide cover for her vote to declare the Iranian Guard a terrorist organization.
The four-page glossy direct mail piece features a picture of Durbin an early and ardent supporter of White House hopeful Obama and his explanation of why he disagreed with his colleague.
Clinton did not bring up the Durbin/Obama divide while stumping in Iowa on Friday night and Saturday, with her campaign preferring to let a direct mail piece do the talking.
That the mailing was even generated demonstrates that the Clinton campaign in Iowa is concerned about the impact of the vote.
Clinton and other backers argue Kyl-Lieberman is part of a strategy to apply diplomatic pressure on Iran. "Let me clear on Iran--I am opposed to letting President Bush take any military action against that country without full Congressional approval,” Clinton writes in the mailing. She said the resolution was “clearly a vote for stepped up diplomacy, not military action.”
The third page of the mailing features a picture of Durbin—who opposed the Iraq war in 2002-- and uses him to validate the Clinton position. Kyl-Lieberman, Durbin told Bloomberg Television, “I don’t believe gives any authority to the President of the United States to invade Iran or any other country.”
A spokesman for Durbin on Sunday declined to comment on the mailing.
from the Obama campaign....
Mail piece attached, text below…
While others went along, Obama opposed Bush’s war plans.
Barack Obama is the ONLY major candidate for president to oppose both the Iraq War from the very start and the Senate amendment that raises the risk of war with Iran.
While other Democrats voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, Barack Obama opposed another Bush foreign policy fiasco.
"Why is this amendment so dangerous? Because George Bush and Dick Cheney could use this language to justify keeping our troops in Iraq as long as they can point to a threat from Iran. And because they could use this language to justify an attack on Iran as a part of the ongoing war in Iraq."
Judgment we can trust.
Barack Obama. President.
Background from Kyl release...
Kyl-Lieberman Measure Calls for Designation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as Terrorist Organization
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today adopted a measure authored by U.S. Senators Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) that calls on the U.S. State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The measure was adopted as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill by a vote of 76 to 22.
The measure comes on the heels of mounting evidence that thorough proxy organizations, Iran is waging a proxy war against the United States in Iraq, providing weapons, training, funding, and direction to radical Shi’a militias who are responsible in turn for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers. Also today, in response to concern that the measure was a possible declaration of war, the amendment was modified to clarify its intent.
“Our military leaders, diplomats, and intelligence reports say that there is clear evidence Iran is exerting negative influence in Iraq,” said Kyl. “I believe that the Senate’s adoption of this measure sends a message to Iran that the U.S. will not tolerate any interference to progress in Iraq. It is now incumbent upon the State Department to add the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to the list of terrorist organizations.”
“It is vital to the national security interests of the United States that the Iranian government not be allowed to prevail in its proxy war against us in Iraq,” said Lieberman. “This amendment makes it clear - both to our enemies and our friends - that the United States will not retreat in the face of Iranian terrorism.”
In Congressional testimony before the House and Senate earlier this month, General David Petraeus, the commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, stated that, “it is increasingly apparent to both collation and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of Iranian Republican Guard Corps Qods Force, seeks to turn the Shi’a militia extremists into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.”
United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker stated in the same hearing: “Iran plays a harmful role in Iraq. While claiming to support Iraq in its transition, Iran has actively undermined it by providing lethal capabilities to the enemies of the Iraqi state.”
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and John Thune (R-N.D.) are also co-sponsors of the amendment.