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Feud Boiling Over

Escalating a Democratic battle over national security, Sen. Barack Obama accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of taking the same closed-door approach as President Bush in handling rogue states.

"You'll have to ask Senator Clinton, what differentiates her position from theirs?" Obama challenged reporters in a conference call on Thursday.

Clinton waited a few hours, then fired back. "What ever happened to the politics of hope?" she said in a CNN interview, tweaking the optimistic Obama campaign theme.

Their tussle -- the first real verbal engagement of the Democratic primary between the top two candidates -- began during Monday night's debate in South Carolina.

Asked whether they would agree to meet leaders from hostile countries such as North Korea and Iran in their first year in office, without preconditions, Obama had said he would. Clinton said she would not. Clinton advisers quickly cast Obama's answer as a rookie mistake, and in an interview on Tuesday, Clinton referred to him as "irresponsible and naïve."

Obama, who has promised to run a "different kind of campaign" free of acrimony, did not shy away from quarreling with Clinton over the substantive policy question at hand. "The Bush administration's policy is to say that we will not talk to these countries unless they meet various preconditions. That's their explicit policy," Obama said. But he did qualify his earlier answer about meeting with rogue leaders without preparation.

"Nobody expects that you would suddenly just sit down with them for coffee without having done the appropriate groundwork. But the question was, would you meet them without preconditions, and part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no," he said.

By late Thursday, officials from the Clinton and Obama campaigns were squabbling on a split-screen on CNN over the matter. "You've misstated the question," Obama adviser David Axelrod shouted at Howard Wolfson, the communications director for Clinton, at one point. "This is about a fundamental change in our foreign policy," Axelrod said.

"Senator Obama's position isn't clear to me listening to you articulate it," Wolfson said.

In a separate national security fight, Sen. Clinton scored a victory against the Pentagon on Thursday, as she received an apology from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for an earlier response she had gotten on military plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

"I emphatically assure you that we do not claim, suggest or otherwise believe that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies," Gates wrote Clinton a week after his under secretary of state, Eric Edelman, told accused her of doing so by talking about pulling out of the war. Gates continued: "That said, we all recognize that there are multiple audiences for what we say, and need to be careful not to undermine the morale of our troops or encourage our enemies -- the point I think Ambassador Edelman was trying to make in his letter."

Clinton, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she was "disappointed that Secretary Gates does not repudiate Under Secretary Edelman's unacceptable political attack," but welcomed "Secretary Gates's acknowledgment that congressional oversight of the war in Iraq is essential to our national debate."

--Anne E. Kornblut

By Post Editor  |  July 26, 2007; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton  
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Next: But Don't Ask Him on YouTube...


It amazes me that Hilary is being touted as the "experienced" candidate. Senator Obama and Hilary are BOTH junior Senators! Obama will be sworn in as President at the same age Bill Clinton was sworn in. Being a first lady does not prepare you for being President more than being a state legislator does. Having a last name that is the same as a former President does not make you qualified to be President. Case in point, "Bush". Lastly, ask yourself: how would your spouse fare in stepping into your current employment position? Exactly. Vote Obama!

Posted by: stardustziggy936 | July 30, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The YouTube folks have distorted what was in the live coverage. There are several of them and most are very good in the way the "Editing" is done. I have watched quite a few and most are by what I refer to as "Hillary Haters', and I can't say if they are adds by Obama supporters or if he is being used, either way his campaign is surely aware of them.

Posted by: lylepink | July 27, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that the question posed in the original debate has been altered to accomodate the answer given by HRC. Historical revisionism is so Clintonesque. Moving on, HRC had strong preconditions on Bill and couldn't keep him in line, couldn't make him honor his agreement and couldn't keep his pants zipped. How does HRC merit any "hope" at all in keeping the rogue leaders of Syria and Chile in line, making North Korea honor it's nuke/food agreements and keeping Ahmednijad's nukes zipped? HRC's defenders assert that preconditions and diplomatic groundwork prevent POTUS from making grave errors. The US had preconditions and diplomatic groundwork with France, Germany, China and Russia,etc., had numerous lower level briefings with the Senate, and surely we have not forgotten Colin Powell's U.N. performances, with what result? POTUS still crusaded us into Iraq with inadequate intelligence and without an exit strategy. HRC was a front row participant in this considered, deliberate process. She was lied to, again, and bought into it, again. So, how could "naive" have been any worse for 3600 dead American soldiers than the intelligence, wisdom and experience brought to bear by HRC?

Posted by: deucebollards | July 27, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Obama made the biggest mistake so far in his campaign by comparing Hillary with the likes of Bush/Cheney. I am a strong supporter of Hillary and have given Obama, IMO, a ZERO chance of being elected POTUS in 08, and have said so early this year. Hillary is the most "Feared" by the repub party, and by that I mean she is the one that the repubs pretty well know they cannot beat in the Nov. General.

Posted by: lylepink | July 27, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Obama blew the question big time, and now instead of withdrawing his answer-he continues to say that he will meet with the all those leader during the first year...Hillary had the grown up answer-
The funny part is how people can say that Obama won the debate- he did not have one good answer during the whole debate-yet he won the debate? What is his plan-that America is going to be the Nice superpower and from there we will have a great economy and lots of respect by other countries? We will clean up the schools and make everyone a big family?

Posted by: robertprobert | July 27, 2007 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama displayed a cerebral, mature attitude toward engaging leaders of other countries that are not America friendly.

Surely diplomacy is superior to war! We need to flex our diplomacy muscle. Instead of engaging in diplomacy, George Bush told the enemy, "bring um'on" and as a result of that visceral message, we are engaged in a colossal mess that is killing Christian soldiers and innocent Iraqis and has depleted our treasury and has diminished our credibility and security.

Hilary Clinton responded in an in-mature, visceral manner that sends a message to leaders of other countries that she is not interested in diplomacy.

We need a mature, cerebral president to restore America's credibility and security and Obama response about engaging foreign leaders is the correct response and Hilary Clinton's response is wrong and unAmerica!

M. Delphia Block

Posted by: Acb718 | July 27, 2007 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: xcskrazechi | July 27, 2007 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama's reactionary approach to handling issues in the campaign does not represent diplomacy. Reactionary and not thinking things through appears to be very much indicative of the current state of affairs of our Executive Branch. Thinking ahead and planning for any possible outcome is necessary for a change. The reason we are currently in Iraq is pre-dominantly due to lack of effective information gathering and planning. Hillary Clinton in her debates has demonstrated and discussed the steps (research/information gathering) which are imperative in order to plan for any possible outcome.

"What jerks the Clinton Campaigns are"..."Her sleazy camp" can I just say that your statement appears to be a bit harsh considering you are speaking about a political debate. The whole point of political campaigns is for individuals to represent opposing views. In essence debate their respective viewpoints. At what point did we as Americans stop respecting others as individuals with different views? Only to start name calling. The fact of the matter is she does have more experience. Although I am sure Obama opposed the war when he served in the Illinois legislature. I also believe it is easier to pass judgement when you were not involved in the decision making process at the beginning.

Posted by: cindy.habeeb | July 27, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Too much fuss about nothing. Both candidates agreed to talk. Obama's answer was simple - yes. Clinton's answer was a complex yes with stipulations that came from experience. This is the problem with the press - the facts are too thin and the hyperbole is too thick. I cannot believe that these two democrats are about to face off and shoot at each other! Come on folks - where is your common sense..

Posted by: CHDODD | July 26, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

It's a ridiculous argument started and fueled by Obama and it really doesn't matter because Obama will never make president. Not in this century.

Posted by: pfaffnhouse | July 26, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

How ridiculous to cry foul when Obama defends attacks
from the hillary machine.

Obama said he wanted a different kind of politics.
I understand that as differrent than the lying spinning
truth evading Clinton campaign.

I watched the guy from the clinton camp repeating

OVER AND OVER how Obama "committed"
to meeting with those leaders.


Obama said no such thing!
He said he'd be "willing to"
not "commiting to" anything.

What jerks the clinton campaigners are.

Hillary isn't the experienced one.
Her sleazy dishonest campaign camp
however, is VERY EXPERIENCED throwing around
trash and lies.


I'll vote for anyone but Hillary.

Posted by: julieds | July 26, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

How ridiculous to cry foul when Obama defends attacks
from the hillary machine.

Obama said he wanted a different kind of politics.
I understand that as differrent than the lying spinning
truth evading Clinton campaign.

I watched the guy from the clinton camp repeating

OVER AND OVER how Obama "committed"
to meeting with those leaders.


Obama said no such thing!
He said he'd be "willing to"
not "commiting to" anything.

What jerks the clinton campaigners are.

Hillary isn't the experienced one.
Her sleazy dishonest campaign camp
however, is VERY EXPERIENCED throwing around
trash and lies.


Posted by: julieds | July 26, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I think it is fair to argue that the world changed after 9/11. Pre-9/11, our major foreign policy challenge was how to manage the emergence of Russia and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the cold war. Our new challenge is dealing with Al-Qaeda and troublesome states with nuclear ambitions like Iran and North Korea.

These new challenges still require overwhelming American millitary power and that is why Sen. Obama supports increasing the millitary by 100,000 combat soldiers to rebuild the neglect that our millitary has suffered because of our fighting on the wrong battle field in Iraq.

But what is also true is that our experience in Iraq has shown that our old perspective and experience do not all apply to this new world. Therefore it is not surprising that the current foreign policy establishment from Bush/Cheney to Clinton failed to understand the complexities of this new world and got us bogged down in Iraq. They failed to understand that in this new world ethnic, sectarian and religious differences among seemingly peaceful neighbors are as powerful as nationalistic sentiments were during the cold war.

Even more problematic is the fact that Hillary doesn't understand this new shift in the world and stubbornly holds on to old ways of thinking -- the exact same ways that got us into trouble in Iraq.

This new world requires strength and humility and conviction to deal with others, including those we strongly disagree with.

Senator Barack Obama has shown that he is best qualified to lead America in this new world.

Posted by: asa_roch | July 26, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

America needs CHANGE not the relentless monotony of ill formed foreign policies that tend to benefit Americas economic imperialists. What ever happened to ruling with humility? Let's face it no other country can stand up to our military hegemony. So why not break from the current administrations policy of "With us or against us" and create dialogue with rogue nations regardless of preconditions? Instilling fear into a population for matters of mass population control for whatever reason is simply wrong. We need Hope and Change not Pre-emptive Strike Doctrines. Obama has got the right idea and is trying to keep it real, just look at his clean campaign. How many other Democratic candidates can claim no lobbyist or PAC money?

Posted by: jro8000 | July 26, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Like kogejoe said in the first post, Clinton and Obama can go screw each other! Vote for the only electable Democratic Presidential Candidate, former Senator John
Edwards! In my lifetime, only white, male southerners have been elected to the White House as Democrats: Carter and B. Clinton.
The only electable Democrat is still the only similar candidate for '08: Edwards.
See you at the Democratic Nat'l Convention.

Posted by: OakRaidFan1 | July 26, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

You really are like Bush, aren't you? You think you're above being questioned or challenged on your positions?

What does your foreign policy position have to do with hope.

We're not asking you about hope, we're asking you about your foreign policy positions.

You've had so many positions in the last few weeks and months it's difficult to determine where you stand.

The same holds true for your numerous positions on the Iraq war: 1) You aggressively AND enthusiastically voted for the Iraq invasion,

2) Then you voted against the Iraq invasion,

3) You voted to fund the Iraq Invasion,

4) Then you voted against funding the Iraq war.

How is anybody supposed to know where you stand when you have so many positions?

Hillary, you didn't sound presidential at the debate (in responding to the meeting with dictators question) going through your laundry list of you have to do this, and then you do that, and then you do this - and you work your way up to that.

You sound more like a state department official charged with background research.

Please note that Hillary had to go find a man (Holbrooke) to continue the fight she started, but didn't have the judgment, the wits, or the know-how to finish.

Lesson to Hillary: You can't go around "decking" people and think you won't get decked back.

Advice to Hillary: The next time you decide to "deck" one of your opponents, find someone who has the "good judgment" you lack to tell you if you can finish the fight you started.

Instead of bringing out Madeleine Albright to help fight your fight, find someone who wasn't photographed sipping champagne with one of the dictators (Kim Jong Il) you say you wouldn't have a meeting with.

Instead of looking strong and tough you look weak and pathetic like Bush. It's never good to lose the fight you started.

Remember Bush was going to 'smokem' out of their caves? Bin Laden is probably smoking Cuban cigars in his cave as he continues to plan "dry-runs" for their next attack over here - instead of over there.

Hillary, you want to carry the Bush TOUGH TALK mantel but we're not going to allow a continuation of the Bush presidency.

You're the one who's being silly and foolish, irresponsible and naive.

Posted by: ItsTimeToTurnThePage | July 26, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Edelman was exactly right, the Dems and some idiot Repubs are aiding and abetting the enemy, and now Hillary is crying to her husband for protection. Yeah, great feminist role model. Both HRC and Hussain Obama are outside the mainstream, 1:) They are both in the pocket of the Islamists and the National Council of Churches; 2:) they both want totalitarian tax and fiscal policies; 3.) they both never saw a government program they did not want to grow larger, except for the military that gives us our freedom. Neither one has a snow ball's chance in hell of getting elected so knock yourself out talking about them and then crying that the election was stolen when they lose

Posted by: wellworn444 | July 26, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a courageous leader who is prepared to meet even with the devil so long as the meeting is in the interest of Americans. Only an experiemced and super intelligent person can meet with thier enemies. Hillary hasn't these qualities to meet with such persons and has honestly admitted she won't be able to stand the grounds of such rogue leaders. Isolationism might have been a good policy in the past but doesn't fit well in today's global political arena and so America shouldn't afford to miss a chance of strengthening her position any where in the world because of fear of meeting rogue leaders. Rogue leaders are quite intelligent and need intelligent people to deal with them and Hillary can't fit in that category. She hasn't an idea about the world's view of America.

Posted by: fun_fed | July 26, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Obama and your crew: don't take the Clinton camp's bait!

They are feeling the heat in Hillaryland.

2008 will be the year for change.

Posted by: filmaticwi | July 26, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I have no comment. This IS for all Republican Presidential Candidates. I am using the word ELABORATE.
So, here it is: Elaborate, why we must not, repeat, we must not, elect a Democratic Presidential Candidate, especially, Clinton or Obama.


Posted by: genem742 | July 26, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The whole problem here is that, due to not studying the facts, the uninformed people of the USA elected a bombastic ignoramus in the two last elections. We do not need another person, with no experience and who has no idea of what to do, to running our great country. I don't think he is as stupid as Bush, but Obama is not qualified to be The President of the USA.

Posted by: mikeandcece | July 26, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Clinton and Obama can go screw each other! Where's Ron Paul!

Posted by: kogejoe | July 26, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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