ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS, Iowa (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama sharply pushed back on rival Hillary Clinton's earlier suggestion that his campaign is politicizing the death of Benazir Bhutto, telling CNN it is the Clinton camp that is doing the politicizing.
"The Clinton campaign started pushing this notion, immediately after this happened, that somehow this was going to advantage their campaign, and one of my campaign aides responded," Obama told CNN's Jessica Yellin. "But I think what the American people are concerned about right now is not how it impacts the vote in Iowa, they're concerned how it's going to impact the long term national security of the United States of America, and that's what we have to stay focused on."
In a Clinton interview with CNN earlier Friday, she said recent comments from top Obama strategist David Axelrod that seemed to draw a line from her initial support of the Iraq war to Bhutto's death amounted to "politicizing this tragedy."
"I just regret that he would be politicizing this tragedy, and especially at a time when we do need to figure out a way forward," Clinton said in the interview.
Obama said he had never met Benazir Bhutto, and has not met Pakistan President Pevez Musharraf, but said his judgment in not supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq was more important than prior international contacts.
"Ultimately, this isn't about who you met with, it's about the decisions you make about the American people," he said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Obama also took aim at John Edwards, suggesting his rival’s current campaign mantra of taking on Washington's special interests is at odds with his past. (Related: Obama, Edwards direct fire at each other)
"I just think you look at the track record. What John is talking about now is not what he was talking about four years ago," Obama said. "It is not what he was talking about eight years ago."
"On issue after issue he now says he made a mistake," he added. "But when he suggests he's somehow going to fight on behalf of the American people then, I have to point out my track record of fighting on behalf of working families has been unwavering."
- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Jessica Yellin