WASHINGTON (CNN) - Prominent military backers of Sen. Barack Obama chimed in Monday as the Obama campaign fought back against the Clinton team's repeated suggestions that Obama was both not yet ready to be the nation's commander-in-chief but was ready to be Sen. Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
"This is more surrealistic than in any other sense, when you are behind in a campaign and you are making propositions about a person being in the second spot," former Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander, Jr. said when asked whether Clinton's suggestion that Obama run as her vice president was patronizing.
"There's something on an implied compliment as well," added former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig. "It's nice to think that Sen. Clinton recognizes that Sen. Obama is clearly qualified to stand a heart beat away from the presidency." "We embrace that proposition, indeed he stands qualified to be the president," said Danzig, who served in the administration of Sen. Clinton's husband.
"The reality is that none of the three remaining candidates in the field have been in an executive position whereby they had to respond to that proverbial 3 a.m. crisis," said Dr. Susan Rice, another former Clinton administration official who is supporting Obama. Rice also called Sen. Clinton's claim that she is qualified to handle such a crisis a "dubious proposition."
"We continue to ask the question: what exactly is the experience that Sen. Clinton can point to that indicates she has had real crisis management opportunities or crisis management challenges in the past," said Rice, who also attacked Sen. Clinton's claim of diplomatic involvement with events in China, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland.
Monday's event featured F. Whitten Peters, who served as Secretary of the Air Force under President Clinton, Rice, Alexander, and Danzig.
The remarks by Obama's supporters also are the latest salvo in a pitched back-and-forth between the Clinton and Obama camps that began more than a week ago with the release of an ad by Sen. Clinton focused on managing an early morning crisis as president and where Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Monday morning "We do not believe that Senator Obama has passed the commander in chief test. But there is a long way between now and Denver."