January 19th, 2008
11:30 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama takes heat for praising Republicans

Obama's interview with the Reno-Gazette Journal Monday has been slowly picked apart all week.

Obama's interview with the Reno-Gazette Journal Monday has been slowly picked apart all week.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - For his political rivals, Barack Obama's editorial board meeting Monday with the Reno Gazette-Journal is the gift that keeps on giving.

First Hillary Clinton jumped on a portion of the interview where he acknowledged his weakness is that he is not an "operating officer" and would not spend his presidency immersed in bureaucratic details. The New York senator responded that the presidency requires a "hands on" leader.

Then John Edwards targeted a portion where Obama appeared to praise Ronald Reagan for his ability to change the political landscape - Edwards said he would never consider praising the former president who caused such "damage to the middle class and working people."

Now Clinton is highlighting a part of the board meeting where Obama called Republicans the "party of ideas" over the last 10 to 15 years.

"I think it’s fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom," he said in the board meeting. "Now, you’ve heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they’re being debated among the Presidential candidates and it’s all tax cuts. Well, you know, we’ve done that, we tried it."

"That’s not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years," Clinton said while campaigning in Las Vegas. "I don’t think it’s a better idea to privatize Social Security. I don’t think it’s a better idea to try to eliminate the minimum wage. I don’t think it’s a better idea to undercut health benefits and to give drug companies the right to make billions of dollars by providing prescription drugs to Medicare recipients. I don’t think it’s a better idea to shut down the government, to drive us into debt."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton brushed aside Clinton's comments.

“It’s hard to take Hillary Clinton’s latest attack seriously when she’s the one who supported George Bush’s war in Iraq, the most damaging Republican idea of our generation," he said.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

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