July 29th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
7 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. 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 |
  2. Momo

    Obama never referred to anyone as Bush-Cheney lite. what he said was that he was not going to be Bush-cheney lite so I think you should listen to his comments before you start taking it out of context. On the other hand, Sen. Clinton called Sen. Obama's comment's on diplomacy «irresponsible and frankly naive» and even said that she was sure he was «regretting it».

    July 28, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Good for Barack. He is calling it like he sees it. I am sorry, but the whole policy of "You don't do what we want so we aren't going to talk to you" is juvenile and will never work. That is part of the reason why the world thinks so little of America.

    July 28, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. Caren

    Go to ABC News website. Obama told a group of news media biggies that he's smarter, more experienced and has better judgement that ANYBODY running either Democrat or Republican. He's smarter, more experienced with better judgement that Richardson, Biden or Dodd? Get a clue folks this guy is going to implode his mask is off. Stop drinking his kool-aid, detox and see him as he is. There is no there...there.

    July 28, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. DF, Jax, FL

    I really didn't have a preference for either Obama or Clinton until this started. But Clinton's stupid political attack definitely backfired with a large percentage of the Dems and Independents. Now, if I have to choose, it will definitely be Obama.

    July 28, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. Brian Little, Oak Park, IL

    Obama has no choice but to abandon treating Clinton with kid gloves. It may be to too early, he has to attack sooner or later if he is to cut into Clinton's lead. After all, who said that politics of hope means saying nothing negative of your opponents!

    July 28, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. Jack Fritscher, San Francisco, California

    The opposite facing, over-the-shoulder, photograph of Clinton and Obama looks like the movie poster for "Brokeback Mountain."

    July 28, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  8. Trang, Fremont CA

    Obama did not say Clinton is Bush-Cheney lite. He said he did not want to go down the path of Bush-Cheney lite, which shows a reluctance to talk to foreign leaders when they have different point of views. Hillary took it personally, and now, look like Tom Vilsack too.

    Clinton, however, did refer to Obama has irresponsible and naive. That is a direct attack. Of course, I am sure she think she is more matured with her years of experience and with Bill Clinton by her side.

    Hillary attacked Obama. Obama stands his ground, defending his stand. He did not attack Hillary.

    July 28, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. KD, Dallas, TX

    Vince, I couldn't agree more. Ignorance and hopping on the bandwagon has caused our country much harm. I always wondered how Bush got elected twice. Some people don't really research what the candidates do stand for, they just hop on the bandwagon and whatever the press says they go with...if they pay attention at all. Some just vote on names and Clinton has the advantage there. I pray we do not have another leadership example as we have had the past six plus years. It is time for change and Obama has made great strides in Illinois. He does stand for the people. Those that are not aware need to do some research.

    July 28, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. Lori, Hobe Sound, FL

    Oh get over it already! I don't believe this is the first time Obama has used this description of opponents.
    Hillary's camp should learn to buck up and grow a thicker skin! It's only just begun.

    July 28, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Obama is inexperienced in his willingness to meet the foreign dictators, and he has problem in interpretation Hillary's records when he called her "Bush Cheney Light".

    I note that many Obama supporters (so do the republican readers) here try to trash Hillary when she did nothing wrong. The repuboican readers here realise that their republican candidates can beat Obama during the general election, but not cannot beat Hillary.

    I used to have an open mind about Obama, but am extremely disappointed about Obama after the recent debate. Obama is young, inexperienced, hot-head, and a monday-night quarterback. What that glitters may not be gold.

    Obama's conduct during the debate and recent hehavior do not show that he has presidential material. Many of his statements start with "I" (which shows his insecurity), while Hillary talked about all democratic candidates are better than the republican candidates and George Bush, and during the debte, she also praised Biden and Richardson.

    Hillary rocks! A woman's (Hillary's) place is in the (White) House! Hillary has my vote, my wife's vote, and my four daughters' votes!

    July 28, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |

    Tom Vilsack knows better who initiated all this, namely the Clinton lady; so, he better watch what he says especially since he is the cochair of her campaign.

    July 28, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. Greg, Kansas City, MO

    Aw, poor Hillary...after being a Rove-like opportunist and twisting what Obama was obviously attempting to say, now it's coming back to roost. Hilarious how she started the whole thing and now wants to brand it "silly".

    Karl would be proud, Hillary, but Democrats aren't as stupid as Republicans, and aren't going to fall for it. Keep on the attack, Barack. Hillary has begged for it and absolutely deserves it.

    July 28, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  14. J. Williams, Baltimore, MD

    The only naive thing I see is the belief that bullying and isolationism will somehow improve our relations with the world.

    By the way, I can't predict the future, but I somehow predict all of the Democratic candidates will side with Hillary and admonish Obama for his comment. Why? Because Hillary's poll numbers are unattainable, so why not play king-of-the-hill and take out the next closest front-runner?

    July 28, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  15. Selly Chreeny

    Vilsack should STAY OUT OF THIS.

    If Hillary wants to name-call and pick a fight, I think Barack should give her one. She starts it and then runs for cover.

    AND Barack NEVER called her Bush-Cheney light. But if the shoe fits...

    I thought more of Hillary before she did this. Now she can forget about my vote. And what's more, before this whole thing is done, Obama will have the nomination.

    If her post-debate actions weren't desperate, I don't know what is. All the pundits said she won, and then she goes and picks a fight, BECAUSE SHE CAME OFF WEAKER THAN HE DID TO THE PUBLIC.

    July 28, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  16. Dave, Irvine, CA

    vilsack is wrong. by saying hillary is "bush/cheney light" does not automatically convey "negative politics" and politics as usual." Obama is trying to distinguish his platform from Clinton's. Vilsack must equate the mere mention bush/cheney as dirty politics in order to justify this claim about obama. It would seem that vilsack sees mentioning bush/cheney at all as inappropriate for political discourse, which suggests that he has simply immersed himself in "negative politics" What duplicity.

    July 28, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  17. Gabriel, Tallahassee, FL

    To: Touley, Lowell MA

    I want to play, I want to play! Touley, can you list “one” thing Hillary Clinton did for America? Obama 08

    July 28, 2007 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. Paul Harper, Glen Rose Texas

    I think Hillary Clinton is bush-cheney lite but I really want to know what she thinks of the job her husband did in Waco against the Branch Davidians. Was killing all those women and children the right thing to do?

    July 28, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Maxwell, Boulder Creek, CA

    Why do people like Vilsack expect obama to kowtow to St. Clinton when it was her who escalated the situation with her "irresponsible and naive" comments? What's negative about Obama's comments? He's right, Clinton's position aligns with Bush's and that hasn't done the country any good – just breeds more hatred and tension in the world. Talk to your "enemies" – there's moral strength in that.

    July 28, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Dorothy, SLC, UT

    Obama is just telling it like it is. He's completely right. Hillary's stance is Bush/Cheney-lite.

    July 28, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. Touley, Lowll MA

    To: Gabriel, Tallahassee, FL

    1: She is representing how strong and intelligent for women of the United States of America to World...
    BTW, too many to list....

    I can't even think of one thing Obama did for the State of Illinois, not even mentioned the US.... you list one.

    July 28, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  22. Fred, Washington, DC

    This is just another example of a Clinton crony who Billary has done favors for going to bat for them on an issue he knows nothing about. Didn't Hillary pay off Vilsack's Campaign debt.

    Just another Clinton surrogate trying to defend Clinton in an area where they are either a lightweight or a total failure. Take Madeline Albright ofr example. Being praised for your diplomatic sophistication by Madeleine Albright is like being complimented on your sense of humor by John Kerry. Albright is the renowned diplomat who helped the Clinton administration blunder its way into an 11-week aerial war in Kosovo. Albright was confident that Serbian President Milosevic would cave at the first whiff of gunpowder, and was shocked when he didn't.

    The Clinton campaign is full of corruption with cronies like McAuliffe and Wolfson who wreak of disgust and sliminess.

    July 28, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. Greg, Kankakee IL

    I stand behind Sen. Obama's comments. He's not participating in politics as usual he's defending himself and calling Hillary on her BS. There's nothing wrong with having backbone, Hillary said he was "nieve" and he's proving her wrong.

    Hillary has flip flopped on her diplomacy. In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Olbermann asked if she would meet immediately with the leaders of the foreign nations and she said absolutely.

    This proves that Hillary can't be trusted. I just hope the rest of the country sees through her lies as well.

    July 28, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. Kimberly, Mesquite, Texas

    I am so annoyed by this already.

    First of all, Clinton was wrong because she misunderstood the question. The question was are you WILLING to meet with the likes of Chavez, Castro, etc. She anwswered then by saying that she wouldn't commit to a meeting because that would be "naive".

    Then, when the debate is over, she attacks his campaign with the one thing that people feel with hurt his chances: his experience.

    I will vote for Obama in the primary because Clinton is really annoying and I can't stand her.

    July 28, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Joe, NY

    I suspect Obama asked twice when they told him that Hillary called him «irresponsible and Naive». He was probably like wait a second are you sure Hillary said that? You sure it was not Gravel? I mean all kidding aside between calling a US senator who happens to be a member of your party «irresponsible and naive» and saying that someone might be trying to copy the Bush-Cheney doctrine which one is negative? I mean all partisanship aside lets get real here. Hillary clearly insulted a member of her party. That was rude and nasty. Had Obama not responded, he was gonna seem like a week irresponsible man in my eyes. Out of all those candidates, I am surprised Clinton is the one who started the negative trash talk. I guess this is part of this acting tough act.

    July 28, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
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