July 26th, 2007
01:12 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama calls Clinton 'Bush-Cheney Light'

Obama campaigned in New Hampshire Thursday.

CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama left little question as to his position on diplomacy with enemy states Thursday, days after his response to a question during Monday’s CNN/YouTube debate drew sharp criticism from opponent Hillary Clinton.

“I’m not afraid to lose the P.R. war to dictators,” Obama said in a speech in Concord, New Hampshire Thursday, where he picked up an early Granite State endorsement from first-term Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes. “I’m happy to look them in the eyes and say what needs to be said... I don't want Bush-Cheney Light.”

In a later conference call with the press, Obama continued on the topic: “Part of the Bush doctrine has been to say ‘no.’ You'll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs.”

The day following the CNN/YouTube debate, Senator Clinton called Obama’s willingness to meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba “irresponsible” and “naïve.” Clinton, responding to the same question Monday, said “a vigorous diplomatic effort” with such nations is necessary, but said “you don’t promise a meeting until you know the intentions. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes and don’t want to make a situation worse.”

- CNN’s Lauren Kornreich and Mark Norman

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Tina, NY, NY

    Bush-Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton-Clinton...waw, America just doesn't learn.

    July 26, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Brendose, Oceanside Ca

    We as Americans....like simplicity and stick to routine.....just look at our presidential history: Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush..........you figure it out. The problem really is that no one wants to run for president when they can make a bigger impact in the private sector (and more money). I'm glad Obama is running, but I wish the presidential race had more qualified participants.

    July 26, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. lavelle

    Of course Barack Hussein Obama doesn’t care how the United States looks to the rest of the world. He doesn’t understand what a wonderful country we have as we enjoy our strength and our freedom and respect our military. His name sorta tells it all!! Yuck! Waste of newsprint.

    ^^^Come on now where are your facts, your playing a card right now and we want to know what that card is?State facts when you come at Barack Obama....So we should think every man in the world who's name is even close to a George Bush then you shouldnt trust them right?

    July 26, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. dominic, inglewood, ca

    i do believe that obama is right. i studied political science as a major in undergrad, and am now at ucla law school, so i think i know what i am talking about ( i hope). calculating with the enemy is a game. any game has risks. calculating with the enemy is a greater risk than talking to him. whats the point of waiting after one year. maybe, if we talk sooner than later, people might start to take us seriously again. america has always tried to find an opponent. maybe it is time that we try to find friends. maybe iran, and venezuela just want attention. or maybe they are doing what is in the best interest of their country, which happens to be contrary to what we want. but then again, we did beg the palestinians to have democracy, and they did. but when they voted for hamas, we tanked their govt and further divided them. hmmm, maybe if we talk to hamas, and whoever else wants to talk, people wont hate us as much. think about it. extremism comes from the sense that you can not control your future. you are helpless. you have no jobs, not military might, and no one is listening. how do u get people to listen? by blowing yourself up. that is where terrorism comes from. if we simply talk to people, as opposed to not talking to people, not only may we find ourselves some friends, but terrorism might decline. furthermore, if we talk to different regimes, their legitimacy might fly out of the window. a lot of those regimes run on an anti-western approach. how would their people view them if they dined with the president of the evil united states. they might probably, and more than likely, lose their credibility and pave the way for us to have a world allies of friends, and not an axis of enemies

    July 26, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Johnny Q Mayer, Brooklyn, NY

    I agree with Obama on this issue. Talk is good. Bombs are bad.

    July 26, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Ryan, New York, NY

    Sue P. Smith,
    Thanks for showing all of us how racist many people in this country still are.

    In case you've forgotten, the President must be a naturally born US citizen. As such, I'm sure he understands what a wonderful country we have. That said, I'm sure he finds it unfortunate that it's infested with simpletons who feel that ethnic surnames, racial backgrounds, and relgious affiliation actually affect the quality of one's patriotism. People with that attitude are no better than the Sunnis and Shiites who kill each other for the exact same justification.

    July 26, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. lionred

    Barack Obama seriously lacks experience. I can't believe he has promised to meet with brutal dictators without precondition. Obama stance is clear, he doesn't care a damn about what the dictators are doing, he just wants to have lunch with them. If Obama wins the democratic nomination, I definitely will be voting Republican!

    July 26, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. mt, BR, La

    Obama is right. You can't resolve anything if you are disengaged from your adversary.

    For the guy who claimed the Bush approach to N. Korea worked, you could NOT be more wrong. For 5 years, Bush refused to engage with N. Korea and the situation got progressively worse. When the U.S. finally engaged with N. Korea, without any agreements or conditions going in, progress was made. In fact, Bush has now managed to get the N. Korea situation back to about the same place it was in before he took office 6 1/2 years ago!! Is that progress???

    I doubt that Obama will win, but he probably would make an excellent president. He is definitely one of the smartest persons in politics today.

    July 26, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Dickie Flatts, Charlotte, NC

    "“I’m not afraid to lose the P.R. war to dictators,” Obama said..."

    Has Obama lost his mind? What the ....

    He is clearly handling this badly.

    His Clinton = Bush / Cheney thing is downright dumb. How many Americans, not just Democrats will buy that? I think most Americans think Bushs and Clintons are polor opposites.

    July 26, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. Linda, Chandler AZ

    Dear Brian: North Korea is shutting down their reactors and proceeding with de-nuclearization, because we TALKED to them. And, believe me, Democrats are just as sick of people like you.

    July 26, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Shannon, La Crosse, WI

    According to the article, Obama did not say she was Bush-Cheney lite–he said "You’ll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs.” I feel the authors of this artcle did a poor job in reporting the news. They called her "Bush-Cheney lite"

    July 26, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. Rose Hillrose, Chicago, IL

    Fact of the matter is: Obama is lying to Americans about his position on the war. Considering the pressures, backstabbing and undercuts by Bush and his cronies, had Obama been in the Senate then, it is a fact that he was going to vote for authorising the war. I am sure he knows this as well. Taking a position on was at a State level is not the same as taking one at the national level. The political ramifications and requisites are different. I pity those who believe he would have voted against authorizing the war. He is simply taking advantage of the fact he wasn’t in the Senate then.

    July 26, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. Erica, Seattle, Washington

    Before meeting with other countries, it is necessary that the United States builds up it's reputation and a great way to do that is to help other countries with the fight against Global Poverty. We can economical, social, and political advantages with this.

    July 26, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Jimmy Sanborn

    Sorry Obama You have not gained any confadence in me with that kind of remark. Wheater I,m for Clinton or not The world knows she is not a light of Bush and Chenny. Again this makes you look naieve

    July 26, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. CMS Orlando, Florida

    I have been a democrat for many years and Mr. Obama is already getting in my nerves! I would like to know what he has done so important that gives him the authority to bash his fellow running mates. I believe that he is a typical politician, he says what he thinks people wants to hear. Take a stand and stop trying to make yourself look good, tell us what is your plan in terms of Irak, healthcare, education, etc. address the real issues instead of being running around them and putting others down. If you think you could bring change to the US political system start by having a plan. Otherwise, don't waste Ophra's and the citizens of this country's money and time. You are just like the all the others,liars!

    July 26, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Outraged Political Activist

    If you are reading through these blogs and wish to make a statement, before you do answer me this.

    Is your statement about Obama's experience? If so, and you think he hasn't had enough, thats fine.

    But if you voted for President Bush either time stick you opinion in your pocket and keep it there.

    July 26, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. Matthew Hensley - Laurinburg, NC


    While you are partly correct in that Bush's administration has, since the spring of this year, has been successful in his approach towards North Korea. However, this appreach involved negotiating with North Korea and going back to an approach that Bill Clinton had successfully used to approach North Korea. This same approach was scratched by Bush's administration during his first term in office, which is why we had a crisis with North Korea to begin with. So much for a success.

    July 26, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. Roberta, Sarasota FL

    Speaking of lite, Obama epitomizes lite. It is hard to believe that a person with so very little experience can actually be running for president of the United States. So far his campaign is nothing more than "change and hope, change and hope." When it comes to substance, he hasn't put any on the table yet. And now he wants to go meet with leaders of countries out to bury us. Good luck with that, Barrack. I am no fan of Hillary's, but at least she exhibits some sense in public discourse.

    July 26, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Michael, Washington DC

    OK-the CNN main page labels this story with the title: "Ticker: Obama labels Clinton 'Bush-Cheney light"

    In the article, we see it written as Obama referring to Clinton's stance as 'Bush-Cheney Light'....no, wait, it's the "Clinton-like diplomacy" and an editorialization at that–not really the way the quote was stated.

    This seems like quite a stretch, CNN. I thought with the cancellation of shows like 'Crossfire' you were moving away from combative sensationalism?

    July 26, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Donny,CantonOH

    Okay, don't get me wrong, I like Barak Obama, but I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. COME ON DEMOCRATS!!!! WAKE UP!!!! We need someone who has the experience and political savy of a Clinton if we want to win back the Presidency. Mr Obama is not going to win the presidency by being a "nice guy." You have to get the Republicans by the juggler, and it is ONLY Mrs. Clinton who can do that! Mr. Obama clearly lacks the political experience that Mrs. Clinton has spent the last 15 years perfecting. He simply can't make a fool-hearted statement that he will be meeting with the worlds anti-American dictators and think that moderate voters are going to support him. And it IS going to be the moderate voters who will decide this election, not the far left!!! I have been dissapointed by Mrs. Clinton in regards to her war stance, but love her or hate her Democrats, you better start warming up to this woman and take the good with the bad or you are going to have President Romney. Though it is early, Polls have shown that Mrs. Clinton IS the strongest candidate in a head to head match-up with a Repulican contender. It doesn't matter if she is running on her husbands coat-tails or her own record, which is substantial. The point is that she possess the money, the political clout, and the spouse that will win the White House. She will bring moderation and respect back to America!

    July 26, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Dan, Texas

    So let met get this straight, Obama and Clinton have the same idea to negotiate with perceived enemies. They said the same thing. Yes, Clinton gave the more nuanced response – but so what, no one is going to have a meeting with the leader of another country without an agenda and prep work. This argument is a non-issue. However, it does bring both Clinton and Obama down a peg in my view. It actually makes the Republicans look like the more mature thoughtful party.

    July 26, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. Wolfram W, Redding CA

    It is naive to think that the strategically detailed question directed to Obama was not a setup and that Clinton had not rehearsed her answer. Obama is right that Clinton demonstrates politics as usual rather than change with this "nice fabricated controversy".

    July 26, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Fred Arredondo, Merrick, NY

    Finally, someone with the guts to meet with our enemy!!!! Thanks to Ronald Regan being willing to meet with the Soviet Union's leaders while they were part of the evil empire, we no longer have the Cold War-unfortunately, we have supplanted it with the 'War on Terroism" and continue to ignore many leaders that could be of help to us. I hope Obama sticks to 'his guns' and shows a different way to reslove conflict!!!!So far the present administration has done an abysmal job at diplomacy and thus we are isolated from the world and fighting two wars, esentially alone!

    July 26, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Taka, Windhoek, NAMIBIA

    Excuse me, I am not American, but as a person likely to be affected in one way or another by decisions made by the American public . . .

    America can be a great nation once again if it chooses to embrace great and progressive leadership. People who are not afraid to get shot down like the Rev Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy (although JFK didn't think it was coming) are few and far between. If one is not prepared to take a political bullet well . . . maybe you should ease your shaky hand off the button. Many of the political icons (not all Presidents) of the 20th century have come out of America. The same can't be said of the 21st century thus far (specific reference to Presidents). . . unless America chooses what is best for itself and the world.

    To all the moralistic critics and cynics who suggest Obama wants to sit down with tyrants and dictators I'd remind you that the American collective continually weighs up the considerations of morals/rights and economics. You only have to consider the "most favoured nation status" awarded to China despite a littany of human rights abuses? Interesting to see GWB and Saddam laughing it up in Fahrenheit 9/11.

    If Jesus could sit down with sinners then hell (excuse the reference) so can you ALL. America's recent forays into Iraq are a clear demonstration of fallibility and tyranny. Most Americans want a climb down from the war in Iraq. Why if going there was the right thing to do?

    Ask yourself this when America engages in discussions with an enemy exactly who is viewing whom as the enemy or dictator?

    Regarding leadership, sometimes America's problem is that you inherit and follow the previous coaches' playbook without realising that the opposition has an entireley different mindset, training tactics and offensive and defensive strategy. Sometimes you have to get into the game and work things as you go along. I think that is what Obama was prepared to do. Whoever comes into power please toss GWb's playbook aside.

    A tyrant/dictator is not so unless so defined by the oppressed populace. America has been as oppressive in some of its foreign policies. If you are dealing with a dictator then you clearly have the wrong mindset, because your judgemental stance is not conducive to negotiation. Get someone else to do it. If you see a "dictator" as someone fallible who can be persuaded to reform then you have a greater chance. If you see a standoff as a situation which at worst can be delayed/ameliorated or at best is amenable to total correction then America might have a chance. If it's peace or guns blazing all the times you are not being realistic.

    People who can't recognise the opportunities to do the small necessary things are as bad as spouses who think that an wedding anniversaries are the be-all and end-all of relationship building. Take every opportunity to improve the situation because the welfare of many depend on it.

    For the folk who think of these debates as nothing more than an upmarket pay-per-view or free WWE event (less Mr McMahon) there might be something in the counterpoint that "leaders get the subjects they deserve".

    Specifically for Sue P. Smith, Obama is confident in the strength of your military, and surely you can come up with a better fruit of "a wonderful country" than respecting the military. "Darling, look at that wonderful tank" Almost sounds as if you are under tyranny. Joke. Really just a joke.

    If only Oscar the cat had insights into political longevity as well . . . . could save a whole lot of money.

    July 26, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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