The Clinton and Obama campaigns are clashing over the meaning of one of Obama’s answers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The spat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is really about calling attention to your opponent's weakness.
In politics, just like in prizefighting, you look for your opponent's weakness and pound away at it. In the debate this week, Obama portrayed himself as new and different - the total opposite of George W. Bush. "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous," Obama said in the CNN/You Tube debate on Monday.
Clinton portrayed herself as experienced and knowledgeable. "You don't promise a meeting until you know the intentions. I don't want to be used for propaganda," she said.
She was going for Obama's weakness - his lack of experience. She kept hammering away at it the next day. "I thought that was very irresponsible and, frankly, naïve to say you would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro or others within the first year," she said.
Obama came back punching at Clinton's weakness. "If there is anything irresponsible and naïve it was to authorize George Bush to send 160,000 young American men and women into Iraq apparently without knowing how they where going to get out," Obama said.
Her weakness? That she's cautious and calculating. And perhaps too willing to compromise with people like President Bush.
Actually, it was not Obama but John Edwards who used the "T word." "Do you believe that compromise - triangulation - will bring about big change? I don't," Edwards said in the debate.
Remember, it's a fight for the world heavyweight championship. So there's bound to be some trash talk. "Senator Obama gave an answer that he is regretting today," Clinton said.
Obama’s response: You want to talk about regrets, lady? Or as the Illinois senator put it, "Do you want to talk about irresponsibilities? Look at the vote to authorize George Bush to send our troops into Iraq without an exit plan."
Here we are, only a couple of rounds into this fight, and there's already blood on the floor.
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider