Clinton vs. Obama on Iran
As tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated, so has the back and forth on the campaign trail -- especially on the Democratic side.
Sen. Hillary Clinton started out sending voters in Iowa a mailer explaning her vote designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity. Sen. Barack Obama responded with his own mailer -- challenging Clinton's judgment and informing voters that he opposed not only the Iran vote but also the original authorization of the Iraq war.
The Obama campaign then followed up with a memo from Greg Craig -- a former Clinton official -- explaining how the most recent Senate vote differed from an earlier measure, which Obama supported, designating the Iranian Guard as a terrorist group. "The current debate about the wisdom of Senator Clinton's support for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment points up significant differences in Senator Obama's approach to the use of force in Iraq as compared with Senator Clinton's approach," Craig wrote.
The newly passed measure, Craig continued, "contains language that sets forth an entirely new rationale for keeping US troops in Iraq and, if need be, for attacking Iranian forces. The problematic language in the resolution says that it is a "critical national interest of the United States" to counter Iran's influence among the Shia population of Iraq. Without a doubt, President Bush can cite that language as authorizing him to maintain and use US troops in Iraq for the purpose of containing Iran, curtailing Iran's influence in Iraq, and, if need be, to expand our troops' activities beyond Iraq's borders to pursue and attack Iranian forces."
In other words, this was a vote for a potential war in Iran.
Not so fast, the Clinton campaign countered.
A press release from team Clinton posited the following:
"Who said this?
"Such a reduced but active presence will also send a clear message to hostile countries like Iran and Syria that we intend to remain a key player in this region." Later in the same speech, he said: "Make no mistake, if the Iranians and Syrians think they can use Iraq as another Afghanistan or a staging area from which to attack Israel or other countries, they are badly mistaken. It is in our national interest to prevent this from happening."
George Bush? Nope. The latest from Dick Cheney? Guess again.
Language from Kyl-Lieberman? Sorry.
That was Senator Obama in late 2006 making the case for why maintaining a military force in Iraq is necessary to constrain Iran's ambitions. But that was then."
The Clinton release, entitled "Obama vs Obama," went on to attack Obama for trying to revive a sagging campaign. "Stagnant in the polls and struggling to revive his once-buoyant campaign, Senator Obama has abandoned the politics of hope and embarked on a journey in search of a campaign issue to use against Senator Clinton. Never mind that he made the very argument he is now criticizing back in November 2006. Never mind that he co-sponsored a bill designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a global terrorist group back in April."
The Obama campaign replied, of course.
"All of the political explanations and contortions in the world aren't going to change the fact that, once again, Senator Clinton supported giving President Bush both the benefit of the doubt and a blank check on a critical foreign policy issue. Barack Obama just has a fundamentally different view," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.
The Clinton campaign -- at least temporarily -- had no comment.
--Anne E. Kornblut
Posted at 12:25 PM ET on Oct 26, 2007
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