Sweet blog extra: Obama tells Sweet “the debate is not just about life experience.” Hits Clinton (not by name) for “conventional thinking.” UPDATE Clinton punches back. “What happened to the politics of hope?” Transcript.

SHARE Sweet blog extra: Obama tells Sweet “the debate is not just about life experience.” Hits Clinton (not by name) for “conventional thinking.” UPDATE Clinton punches back. “What happened to the politics of hope?” Transcript.
SHARE Sweet blog extra: Obama tells Sweet “the debate is not just about life experience.” Hits Clinton (not by name) for “conventional thinking.” UPDATE Clinton punches back. “What happened to the politics of hope?” Transcript.

WASHINGTONIve been musing over the argument made by White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) that his unique multicultural background gives him the best grounding of all the 2008 candidates to be president when it comes to foreign policy. But is this actual experience? Depends on what you mean by experience.

On Tuesday, Obama said Washington experience is illusory” and on Wednesday continued to try to tie Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to the Bush-Cheney administration.

UPDATE Well, this is getting kind of silly,” Clinton told CNN’s John King. ” Ive been called a lot of things in my life but Ive never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney certainly. We have to ask whats ever happened to the politics of hope.”

Thursday morning I asked Obama about his multicultural background and his chief rivals and he said, And whats been interesting about this debate over diplomacy is, I really think that it is a debate over the same conventional thinking that led people to authorize the war in Iraq without asking questions versus a, an approach to foreign policy that asks questions and is informed by a knowledge and perspective of cultures like those in Iraq and is not trapped by a lot of received wisdom.”

For Clinton, the experience question is answered by her deep detailed knowledge of process, players and politics from years in the White House as First Lady and six plus years in the Senate.

What Obama undeniably has is a variety of life experiences that make him unlike any other presidential contender. Obamas youth was spent in Hawaii and in Indonesia. He has five living half-brothers and two-half sisters with African, Indonesian and American backgrounds from his parents various marriages and relationships. (There is a question whether one of the half brothers is a blood relation; Obama treats him that way.)

Throw in current and past in-laws with ties to the U.S., Britain, China and Canada and you have, as Obama has said, a United Nations at family gatherings.

This morning, during a conference call with reporters, Obama went back to the issue raised in the Monday debate–they split over whether to meet with rogue leaders without preconditions.

“Part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no. You will have to ask Sen. Clinton which differentiates her position from theirs,” he said. (UPDATE…SEE BELOW FOR CLINTON RESPONSE TO OBAMA LINKING HER TO BUSH-CHENEY)

Obama replied to my question about what in his multicultural background is there that prevents Clinton or former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) pursuing the kind of diplomacy he talks about.

Obama said, The debate is not just about life experience, although obviously that informs my perspective. But it also has to do with perspectives about how the United States should project its interests and ideals around the world.

And whats been interesting about this debate over diplomacy is, I really think that it is a debate over the same conventional thinking that led people to authorize the war in Iraq without asking questions versus a, an approach to foreign policy that asks questions and is informed by a knowledge and perspective of cultures like those in Iraq and is not trapped by a lot of received wisdom. And that I think is what is going on here. We had a foreign policy over the last several years that is obsessed with talking tough and then not acting very smartly,” he said, aiming, not by name at Clinton.

And part of what I believe we have to have if we are going to be successful in going after terrorists and mobilizing the international community around critical issues like Darfur and stabilizing Iraq is a willingness to not just talk tough, but be tough enough and smart enough to talk to leaders around the word, to engage our enemies, to speak truthfully, to uphold our values. And that I think is going to be part of the central debate in this campaign.

UPDATE: 3:47 p.m. eastern

This from Clinton campaign’s Phil Singer..

Senator Clinton taped an interview with CNNs John King this afternoon where she was asked to react to Barack Obama referring to her as Bush-Cheney Lite. The following is what Senator Clinton said (the interview will air later this afternoon on CNN):

SEN. CLINTON: Well, this is getting kind of silly. Ive been called a lot of things in my life but Ive never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney certainly. We have to ask whats ever happened to the politics of hope?

I have been saying consistently for a number of years now, we have to end the Bush era of ignoring problems, ignoring enemies and adversaries. And I have been absolutely clear that weve got to return to robust and effective diplomacy. But I dont want to see the power and prestige of the United States President put at risk by rushing into meetings with the likes of Chavez, and Castro, and Ahmadinejad.

###

CNNs John King interviewed Sen. Hillary Clinton today and asked her about her back-and-forth with Sen. Obama over meeting with other world leaders. A portion of that interview aired on CNNs The Situation Room. And for further details of the interview, see John Kings own posting on CNNs Political Ticker: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2007/07/26/clinton-calls-bush-cheney-comparison-silly/Please credit all usage to CNNs John King

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There’s no letting up in the war of words

under way between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that began on our

debate stage Monday night. Today, Obama is accusing Clinton of embracing

a Bush-Cheney lite brand of diplomacy, and now Clinton is firing right

back.

Let’s bring in our chief national correspondent, John King.

Tell us a little bit more about what’s going on. But you spent time with

Senator Clinton today.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I did. And this is in the

middle of this remarkable back-and-forth between the two top candidates

in the Democratic race for president.

Senator Obama started the latest round this morning. He’s campaigning up

in New Hampshire, and he pinned what Democrats would consider a most

unfriendly label on the Democratic front-runner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don’t want a

continuation of Bush/Cheney. I don’t want Bush-Cheney lite. I want a

fundamental change.

It’s time to turn the page on how we do business and say to the world,

we are ready to lead. We are ready to lead by deed and example.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, it’s safe to assume being compared to the current president

and vice president didn’t go down too well with Mrs. Clinton. In an

interview with CNN, she suggested her rival was abandoning his promise

of smear-free campaigning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is

getting kind of silly. You know, I’ve been called a lot of things in my

life, but I’ve never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney, certainly.

You know, you have to ask, whatever has happened to the politics of hope?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Amid all this sniping, both senators holding firm on the question

that started the dustup back Monday night, Senator Obama’s statement

that he would be quickly to meet as president with the leaders of rogue

nations that President Bush has refused to deal with. Leaders like the

president of Iran and Venezuela and Cuba. Mrs. Clinton says it’s

irresponsible to make such a promise up front without first doing some

delicate diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If we want fundamental change, then we can’t be afraid to talk to

our enemies. We can’t be afraid. I’m not afraid of losing the P.R. war

to a dictators. I’m happy to look them in the eye and say what needs to

be said. I’m happy to tell them what I think.

I’m not going to avoid them. I’m not going to be — hide behind a bunch

of rhetoric.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I have been saying consistently for a number of years now, we

have to end the Bush era of ignoring problems, ignoring enemies and

adversaries. And I have been absolutely clear that we’ve got to return

to robust and effective diplomacy. But I don’t want to see the power and

prestige of the United States president put at risk by rushing in to

meetings with the likes of Chavez and Castro and Ahmadinejad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Clinton conceding in that interview, Wolf, that it’s

getting a little bit more personal a little earlier than she

anticipated. She says, though, we’re in an intense phase of the

Democratic primaries. Her campaign thinking Obama is nervous because he

hasn’t been able to move the poll numbers by being the candidate of

hope, as he likes to put it, by not attacking his rivals.

The Obama says, no way. They think Mrs. Clinton represents the past and

that voters will embrace his new approach.

BLITZER: Because from his camp, you get the word, well, he raised a lot

more money and a lot — a significant — significantly more money than

she did, and he’s narrowing the gap in some of the national polls.

KING: He is. And they understand, the Obama camp, they cannot back down

on this point, because the fundamental question here is not just what he

said in the debate. It is the question of, is he experienced enough to

be president?

If they blink and give into Senator Clinton on this one, they believe in

the Obama campaign it will open the door to even more attacks on that.

They know on this one, the first big fight between the two at the top,

they can’t back down.

BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much.

John King reporting.

END

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