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. Jay Denver, NC

    Mrs. Clinton is exactly what America needs at this time. She is deceitful, always a victem, always enraged and if the truth slapped her on the face she would'nt know it.

    We can all be proud of the quality of candidates out there – they match the level of society we've become: Vicious and nasty.

    July 29, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  2. Michelle, LA

    Okay, who cares? Enough already!! Anything better to debate?

    July 29, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  3. Danielle Clarke

    Vilsack is on HILLARY'S PAYROLL and she paid off his presidential run debt!

    Are we to trust him ??

    July 29, 2007 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  4. mpp, morriston, florida

    This feud is getting out of hand. Whatever happened to "for the good of the party"? I'm not a Dem, so it doesn't matter to me, but you'd think Hillary and Obama are smart enough to cool it before embarrassing comments like "naive and irresponsible" or "Bush-Cheney lite" are made.


    July 29, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    ...okay, enough!

    I think both sides protest too much. Democrats have a knack for eating their young, witness the last 6+ years of President Bush (that is what we get when Democrats fight amongst themselves).

    President Bush has got to be loving this! He has done an awful job as President, his poll numbers are in the basement (third level down)...and to hear the press tell it, neither of the two cadidates has mentioned his name in days.

    They are supposed to be running against Bush and the Republicans...lets keep our eyes on the prize....

    July 29, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. BCRICH33, Hartford, CT

    Whats even more sad – read the CNN article again – ya think they are supporting Hillary in this or what? Just once I want someone to report the news...not spin it to make sure Hillary's supporters won't decide to actually look at her record. Obama was right to say this – and Hillary is a socialist spinner like Bill. It is time for a change but definitely not Hillary.

    July 29, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. Celestino Goncalves

    I,m not an American Citzen but I do care about the US. I've seen many things this Country did to help mine for many years.My wife is american and some other members of our family too.
    I think the whole discussion is about going and talking to the "crazy guys" on the other side of the fence. I wouldn't unless they would show big differences in their blindness in the way they see the new world order that is comming.

    July 29, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Mick, Boston

    Obama he does not have a clue in terms of foreign policy. He says he is not afraid to lose the PR war- but with these countries all we have is the PR war. If we lose it we have no choice but real war.
    I think the time has come for America to have a black president...but not Obama.

    July 29, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. marie, richmond va

    sorry caren but he is smarter than biden and dodd. they voted for the war. how could you be congress that long and make that kind of mistake. who wants a president who can be bullied into war when its wrong.

    July 29, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. marie, richmond va

    of course vilsack would agree with and endorse hillary she paid his debt off. how disgusting

    July 29, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. J, Washington D.C.

    what, no response from the other side? A bit one-sided don't you think?

    CNN is becoming joke. It looks like it's time to move on to PBS and MSNBC for TV news.

    July 29, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. Andrew Wilmot, Pittsburgh, Pa

    My criticism is neither directed at Clinton nor Obama, but the manner in which this article was written. By writing in the first sentence that "Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said he is disappointed with Barack" and saving until the third paragraph to state that "Vilsack is the national co-chair of Clinton's presidential campaign," the article will cause half of its readers (the speed readers) to take away the impression that Obama has made a political faux pas which has upset neutral politicians, and not just Hillary's campaign. If the journalist is aiming for neutrality, he/she should state the exact affiliations of those he/she quotes up front.

    July 29, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. EE.

    hilary's comments demonstrate terrible insecurity though a front runner otherwise she wouldnt pick a fight with a guy 15 points bellow her in polls.

    secondly not only did she give this guy a big buzz making him the veritable candidate for change she also gave him an opportunity throw her own words at her..what is naive is having voted for the war without knowig how to get out.. .that was succint.

    hilary might be in for real trouble in the coming weeks. obama is definitely inexperienced and it didnt need her stupid statements for americans to know that . she shot herself in the leg. danger looms!

    July 29, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. Lisa, Orlando FL

    BCRICH33 and Mr. Wilmot (sp?) above thread are absolutely right about CNN's coverage. It is so obvious the msm are trying to create the "Hillary as inevitable" scenario because they fear change as much as the DLC and of course, the Corporations/elites do. I can't WAIT til the primaries when actual people get to shock the msm and then watch them squirm and pontificate about how they weren't wrong or anything...blah blah blah.
    Also – and I just want to throw this out there. Maybe Iran (though not at the level of going to war), but WHO decides who our "enemies" are? Why does everybody just keep repeating these conventions without thought. Chavez is NOT our enemy. He is not a dictator and he is only opposed to US neo-liberalism/imperialism in Latin America (i.e. POLICY), not to the U.S. itself. If America thinks a country like VENEZUELA is a THREAT, then we've already lost the "PR" war. Venezuela?!?! Oooh! I'm scared!
    And Cuba. WHY ON EARTH are we still calling Cuba our enemy?!?! The Cold War is OVER!! How in God's name does Cuba represent ANY "threat" to the United States (if it ever did)??? Yes. How DARE they choose to have a different economic system and foreign policy than ours!
    I'm sick of "ENEMIES"!! Yes, we have to look out for our security and economic interests, but can we get past this whole good guy, bad guy scenarios?

    July 29, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. WC, SF, CA

    Fantastic...Neville Chamberlain is set to win the Presidency yet again.

    July 29, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  16. F.Igwealor, Los Angeles, CA

    Poor Tom Vilsack was hurried in to do a press conference against his better judgment and conscience.
    Remember the Clinton campaign bought-out Vilsack’s campaign for $400,000; he sure is indebted. The Clinton campaign helped pay off Vilsack’s $400,000 campaign debt for his endorsement.
    This is a typical buyout arrangement with management-in-place to take care of business for the Clinton machine. Who know how the South Carolina $200,000 buyout is working so far? Whether the in-place management is still performing or not?
    Vilsack is working really hard and deserve some more payout because of the increased performance requirement like this “hastily called press conference”.

    July 29, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. Bruce,San francisco, CA

    Thanks Brett, thats exactly what i have been trying to say. It seems like the media treats Clinton differently.She is allowed to attack other candidates and not get any controversy but when Barack says something, it is deemed negative. Also, i am sure that Barack did not get the chance to clear his position on diplomacy conditions.

    July 29, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. T

    How can Sen. Clinton be so immature? Obama defended himself the best way he knew how. I can only imagine what Clinton would have done if the allegations were started by the Obama campaign. I have believed that Sen. Clinton is a politician at heart. For once, I want a President who is not a politician and of all the candidates in the Democratic Primary, I only feel that Obama comes close to being someone who is not a full fledged "politician." I can't explain it, but he portrays a sense of honesty–a sense that I rarely if ever see in Sen. Clinton.

    July 29, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Trina, Albuquerque, NM

    He did not mention that woman's name! This is crap the media is trying to stir up. And her camp is falling for it. Give me a break. She's as evil as evil can get.

    July 29, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. D. Johnson, Portland, OR

    Obama– so green you can't tell he's black! Whether you love or hate Hillary (or any other Dem), it's quite obvious that Obama's lack of experience– and apparently, lack of forethought (hoof & mouth disease)– is a problem. What on earth is the point of trashing another contender, especially the front-runner, other than to weaken the Democrats' chance of knocking off whatever cretin the Repulsicans nominate? Mr. Obama, get a clue!

    July 29, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Chima Ordu, York, PA

    So first Hillary attacks Obama, then when she gets punched in the mouth, she and her minions whine that she is the victim?
    Obama did not engage in "negative politics", but is challenging Hillary's position on foreign policy. What Hillary should do is explain how her position IS different from Bush/
    Cheney...but she can't, so she is reduced to sarcastic remarks like "what happened to the politics of hope?". So Hillary expects to attack Obama but and her people do not want her to be responded to....ok...I see how it works.

    July 29, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Greg, Phoenix, AZ


    That is funny, but don't you think the ENTIRE Democratic ticket is Neville Chamberlain? Not one reference to Islamic terrorism during the ENTIRE debate???


    Couldn't agree more, Hillary has no business starting a fight with Obama because the last thing she needs to do is remind people why they hate and distrust her so much. She is trying to drag him down to her level so the media might stop gloating on Obama all the time, however this is a VERY perilous strategy for her.

    July 29, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Rigo, Somerville,MA

    Hillary is right on this, she is right on the issue and she is right in calling Obama out for not sticking to his politics of hope message. Clinton called Obama'c comments naive, not him. But he is calling her bush-cheney lite. That is a harsher attack, since it is againt the person, not a position. Hillary Clinton is ready to lead, she will restore competence and lead a W.H with goals, i like Obama, he would do the same. But i like Clinton better and i really don't think Obama would stand chance ina general election.

    July 29, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Juanito Ferrer, Washington, DC

    Trina: I read your comment and went back to watch the ENTIRE 3 minute clip of Senator Obama's comments, and you are so correct. Anyone who actually watches the clip will have a hard time saying that he called Hillary "Bush/Cheney Lite." Once again, our media has succeeded in manufacturing so called "attack on Hillary." Of course the same media was not so indignant when Hillary attacked Obama on Tuesday.

    July 29, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. Tom Fellows, Lewiston, Idaho

    I am not surprised at Vilsack's comment. It was bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign. Clinton openned a "can of worms" by saying that Obama's response at the debate was irresponsible and naive. The repsonse she gave at the debate is inconsistent with what she said in a speech before the Council of Foreign Relations in 2006 and her responsense she gave to Keith Olbermann in January of 2007

    July 29, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5