(CNN) - Campaigning in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago on Monday, John McCain sought to impugn the Illinois senator’s judgment on national security by slamming Obama's statement that Iran poses a less serious threat to the United States than the Soviet Union did.
"Sen. Obama claimed that the threat Iran poses to our security is 'tiny' compared to the threat once posed by the former Soviet Union," McCain said at the beginning of his speech to the National Restaurant Association. "Obviously, Iran isn't a superpower and doesn't possess the military power the Soviet Union had. But that does not mean that the threat posed by Iran is insignificant."
McCain was referring to Obama’s comments on Sunday in Pendleton, Oregon, in which Obama asserted that his administration's foreign policy would allow for negotiations with hostile nations. (Related: McCain slams Obama for downplaying threat from Iran)
"Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries," Obama remarked. "That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela - these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union."
"They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us,” he said. “And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying 'we're going to wipe you off the planet.' "
McCain, who regularly assails Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the stump, suggested in Chicago that Obama doesn’t understand the "basic realities of international relations" and that engaging Ahmadinejad diplomatically would only embolden him.
"Senator Obama has declared, and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the President of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American Presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union," McCain said. "Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment."