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Obama Responds to 'Children' Ad

By Alec MacGillis and Shailagh Murray
Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said on a conference call with reporters that the "Children" ad released by the Hillary Clinton campaign today would likely not have its intended effect because many voters had already determined that Obama had shown superior judgment on national security by opposing the war in Iraq.

"We don't think the ad's going to be effective at all. Senator Clinton already had her red-phone moment, a decision about whether to allow George Bush to invade Iraq, and she answered affirmatively... She did not even read the National Intelligence Estimate and didn't do her homework, either," he said. The real question, he added, "is about what you say when you answer that phone, what kind of judgment you show... She had her red phone moment in 2002, and she and John McCain and George Bush all gave the wrong answer. It's kind of a shopworn tactic. We do not think it's going to work at all."

He added a moment later, "We agree voters are thinking about who is best able to keep them safe, and we think increasingly they've been settling on Senator Obama."

Plouffe said that the campaign today reintroduced an ad showing Gen. Tony McPeak, a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vouching for Obama's ability to be commander in chief.

Later in Houston, Obama addressed the ad directly before a rally. "Now before we open this up for conversation, I just want to take a moment to respond to an ad that Senator Clinton is apparently running today that asks, 'Who do you want answering the phone in the White House when it's 3 a.m. and something has happened in the world?'" he said.

"We've seen these ads before. They're the kind that play on people's fears to scare up votes," he continued. "Well, it won't work this time. Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is -- what kind of judgment will you make when you answer? We've had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer.

"But I stood up and said that a war in Iraq would cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. I said that it would distract us from the real threat we face -- and that we should take the fight to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. That's the judgment I made on the most important foreign policy decision of our generation, and that's the kind of judgment I'll show when I answer that phone in the White House as president of the United States.... And I'll never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, because it's a threat that should rally this country around our common enemies. That's the judgment we need at 3 a.m. And that's the judgment that I am running for president to provide."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 29, 2008; 11:59 AM ET
 
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