July 29th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
3 years ago

Obama comment fires up senior Clinton official

The war of words between Clinton and Obama continued Saturday

(CNN)–Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said he is disappointed with Senator Barack Obama's comments earlier this week about Senator Hillary Clinton. In a stop in Concord, New Hampshire on Thursday, Obama referred to Clinton's approach to foreign policy as "Bush-Cheney light."

"Not only is that not correct, it is a distortion of Senator Clinton's comments and her record," Vilsack said. "But it flies in the face of the promise that Senator Obama gave to all of us when he began his campaign of avoiding negative politics and campaigning with politics as usual."

Vilsack, a Democrat, is the national co-chair of Clinton's presidential campaign.

The Obama and Clinton campaigns have been involved in a war of words over how they would engage rogue governments if elected president. At last Monday's CNN/You Tube Debate, Clinton said she would not meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela without precondition. Obama, invoking John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan's diplomacy during the Cold War, said that he would meet with leaders of those countries during his first year in office..

Clinton said she did not want to see the power and prestige of the office of the presidency used for what she called “propaganda purposes.” .

"I'm not afraid to lose the P.R. wars to dictators," Obama said Thursday. "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 press conference call Saturday, Vilsack took issue with Obama. "Those comments are so wrong, one could say certainly audacious, but honestly they are not particularly hopeful. And I am disappointed in the Senator."

"This is a substantive debate during which she called Obama irresponsible and naive," said an official with the Obama campaign in response to Vilsack. "Obama has been entirely consistent - he never said he would invite dictators over for a cup of coffee and he said he wouldn’t let these dictators use him as a propaganda tool. What he did say was that he would be willing to meet with them."

Obama campaigned in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.

–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Brett, Malibu, CA

    It's funny that when Barack say's something that can be interpreted as negative towards Hillary her camp is dissapointed. However, the Clinton camp never feels any shame when they use negative politics against Barack.

    July 28, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Doris, MD

    Move on....If Hillary didn't want her record to come up she should have kept her big fat mouth shout. Now she wants to whine "don't pick on me" Well lady when playing with the guys if you throw jabs you will get them back. Can't take it GO Home and check on Bill..oh he's probably not there anyway.

    July 28, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Momo

    I think senator Clinton needs to ask her team to just let the issue go. Obama was good at turning your own words agaisnt you. He passed this test now just let it go. All you are doing is turning him into the only alternative to the clinton-Bush dynasty. Clinton started the fight she is the only who can stop it. As long as she keeps attacking Obama, he will have to respond. Now we know Obama is «in it to win» as well and his responses to republicans and clintonistas have been good. At least Obama proved that he can fight the clinton machine and the clintons should just focus on their front runner status and refrain from attacking the underdogs because in the end, underdogs wants you to attack them. With all the «political experience», i am surprised the clintons do not know that front runners should not start the attack game and name calling. By the way I am sorry nobody is attacking Kucinich right now. Now calling Obama out for responding to your attacks is like a 3 years old who starts a fight and runs to the teacher the minute the other kids punches back. Hillary you were pretty irresponsible and naive to think that Obama was gonna let you get away with your attacks.

    July 28, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. JC, Baltimore, Maryland

    And I am disappointed in Senator Clinton for calling Obama's FP "naive." So I guess Tom and I are even.

    July 28, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. Tim, New York

    I don't think Hillary is whining nor do I think she's asked for anybody to stop the discussion over this issue. When she referred to the issue as "silly", she was referring to Obama's comment that she is "Bush-Cheney Light", not to the debate itself. It's funny how people don't actually read any articles, just headlines and then making sweeping and derogatory comments.

    July 28, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. james

    i have been involved with two elections (that we won). And I know an election is about defining your opponent or defining yourself.
    I am not sure what clinton was trying to do but they failed to define Obama because in the end he just used their attacks as a way to define himself as a force for change in foreign policy and as the person that would turn the (Bush clinton Bush) page. He just needs to remind people that unlike Clinton he aint taking lobby money and he is clearly presenting Clinton as the old system candidate. Obama needed to differenciate himself from Clinton and she gave him his chance. So Hillary check your mailbox for a thank you card from the Obama campaign.

    July 28, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Austin, Boulder CO

    Obama's comments are defending his stance not attacking Clinton. I think Hilary's camp is trying to paint Obama as just another mud-slinger and news agencies spin and sensationalize comments.

    July 28, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    SHE started this whole fight with her comments the day after the debate. Such a typical Clinton tactic to start something and then act like they didn't do anything wrong. These are DEPLORABLE people.

    July 28, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  9. PEGGY, TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA

    Why do people people continue to defend Hilary Clinton? She hasn't done anything for the American public she will never be Obama, "the real winner."

    July 28, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  10. Bill, Cumberland MD

    I think Sen. Clinton's criticism of Sen. Obama's position was legitimate and accurate. Funny how Obama responds when criticized – skip the debate and get straight to the name-calling. Boy, that's different.

    I won't vote for Obama because he has no experience to back up his rhetoric. If he is the Democratic nominee, the GOP will eat him for breakfast. They will turn him into Willie Horton Light before Memorial Day 2008.

    July 28, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. John, Michigan

    I am sure there will be other nations wanting our attention. Might even be a few million Americans wanting to meet with Obama.Maybe Barack can call Chavez and Putin Bush-Cheney light. The good news is Obamas' splendid oratory can explain to American workers why they are doing the work the Chinese don't want to do.

    July 28, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Thomas, DC

    Back where I grew up, when you start a fight, you are the first to apologize. Clinton should just put an end to this....for the sake of our party. She wanted to bully Obama out of this race for president and all she accomplished is to make him more relevant. Stop the attacks Hillary. Your husband gave George Bush a campaign slogan: «restore honesty and moral to the white house». Please do not let the republicans win this election again. Al Gore is not in the white house thanks to your husband. I would hate to see another republican get to the oval office thanks to another Clinton.

    July 28, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    You would think someone with the unprecedented negative ratings that Hillary has would be more careful. A VERY large % of people do not like her and when she tries to pull stunts like this it only reminds people of her true character.

    July 28, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Robert Tulloch

    What is lost in this tit for tat is the threat to our country by the audacity of this inexperienced jr to think he is qualified to lead this nation and the stupidity of those who support him.

    July 28, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Jonathan Koontz, West Salem, OH

    What a manipulative wench! Don't go flinging pooh and then throw up your arms in disbelief when you get pooh flung back at you. How can this woman still be the "frontrunner"??? After all, didn't Oprah endorse Obama? I thought it would be curtains for any other candidate after that anyways...but I digress. Seriously, though we can't discount the good things that Mr. Clinton did while in office, there was some bad stuff too, and we'd all be fools to forget about all of it or to think that Hillary didn't have anything to do with it too...Whitewater comes to mind. A vote for Hilary is a vote of "more of the same", just a different side of the isle.

    July 28, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. Joe, Des Moines

    For all the talk about experience Hillary proved how inexperienced she really is.Why on earth would a frontrunner( well for now). sling mud at her opponents. Inexperience. And isn't Vilsack the guy who just had his campaign debts paid off by the Clinton machine? Well, he sold his soul, from now on he has to do what the Clinton Machine tells him to do.

    July 28, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  17. Kevin, san diego, ca

    Did i miss something? Didn't Hillary's camp start this "war of words"? Obama did nothing wrong but defend himself. I would expect any presidential hopeful to do the same if they were called "naive."

    July 28, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Lance, Los Angeles, CA.

    Obama was absolutely right. Look at what he said in context. Of course you have to do groundwork before you meet with any leader good or bad. He wasn’t speaking of blindly “having them over for tea.” He was saying the time for blustering and non-communication is past, which is exactly what Hilary has said. She is just pandering and trying to pick a fight. To his credit, Obama hasn’t lay down on this issue, he’s been swinging full force back at Clinton, proving that he’s got the mettle that Kerry lacked. Kerry would have let himself get tagged a whimp, but Obama, no way is that dude a wimp. Look at him, he’s fierce, he’s determined, and the more the country knows about him, the more he’s going to be unstoppable. Clinton is scared, plain and simple.

    July 28, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Rex, Toledo, Ohio

    How sad. This early in the race, and they already are bickering like children. As I've stated before, I'm a Democrat through and through, but Ron Paul looks better and better every day.

    July 28, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  20. Michael

    I am so tired of hearing about Obama. I'm sure I'll be tagged a racist, but think about it, if the man wasn't black would anyone be paying any attention to him? A few people yes, but the media would certainly not be hanging on his every word.

    July 28, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  21. Lance, Los Angeles, CA.

    Ron Paul? Are you nuts. It doesn't matter how great the guy is, we need to take over the democratic process from within it, not by going with someone without hope of ever being elected. If you don't look realistically at the candidates and the issues, or worse if you do nothing, you're basically throwing your vote to the worst of the neo cons.

    To me, Obama is a visionary leader. He has far more experience in the real world than Clinton or any of the other candidates. Everything I hear and read about him furthers this. He was a civil rights attorney, he worked to rise people above their stations. He is the kind of leader that comes along once a generation if we’re lucky. I’ve just read “the Audacity of Hope” and it was so stirring, so clear, so clearly written not by a ghost writer but in the voice of the man himself. Barry Obama is the real deal, he’s the sort of fighter that we need oh so desperately in these trying times. I would go door to door for this candidate, I would believe he would look at any issue either foriegn or domestic with clear eyes and make decisions that were both humane and smart for our country and the world. The other candidates all strike me as fodder for lobbists, career politicians. I remember how moved I was when I heard his speech during Kerry’s convention. He is indeed a uniter, someone who can bring this sadly divided dis union back into union again. People will put paintings and photos on their walls of this man in the same way they do JFK or MLK. Mark my words, America and the world will prosper under President Obama. To see that happen I’d gladly travel to Ohio, to South Carolina, to Iowa, or anywhere else I needed to go to ensure he gets a fair shot. That’s all the man needs, is one good fair shot. Given his due he’ll do us right. Do the research. Don’t be a lemming. Read about him, read his own words. They aren’t sound bites, they’re living, breathing, human thoughts full of compassion and common sense, stength and integrity. Really look at this candidate. Do your kids and their kids the biggest favor of our lives.

    July 28, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  22. Melita Avdagovska Edmonton, Canada

    Imagine a political force Clinton-Obama joined together as one unified voice? That is what this country needs, not another war of words.

    July 28, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  23. Touley, Lowell MA

    TO: PEGGY, TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA

    Can you list "one" thing Obama did for America?

    July 28, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. SweetWilliam/WildBill Rock Hill SC

    To refer to anyone, as “Bush Cheney Lite” is an attempt to smear whoever is referred to as a version of an administration that all who are democrats fervently hope and pray will be gone with the next election. To refer to any democrat, not just Hillary Clinton, as “Bush Cheney Lite” is nothing but an attempt to smear. And “Bush Cheney Lite” is a smear.
    Obama can and should do better than this.

    July 28, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. Dasun Abeysekera, New Albany, Ohio

    I'm not an American citizen, but I can recognize who speaks of hope and stands by it. Not being afraid to meet with rogue states is an act of hope; it says to the world that America is willing to listen to other cultures and people. not necessarily agree with them, but atleast be willing to discuss the differences and find solutions. Preconditions pretty much are in-the-face bullying tactics which are detrimental and hurtful to a sense of pride to which all countries are entitled. I'm glad Senator Obama is turning this on Senator Clinton. He did not start it, but he is shrewd enough to see an opportunity when he sees one. I guess what he is saying is let's show where we are different; I'm not afraid of losing a few people that are still ruled by fear, not recognizing the kind of fear these so called "rogue-governments" have for the might of the US...I see that Americans are now hoping for better foreign relations and Sen. Obama is pinning his hopes on them. Imagine that!

    July 28, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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