(CNN) - Barack Obama formally rejected Gen. Wesley Clark's recent comments Monday that questioned whether the John McCain's military experience qualified him to be commander in chief.
"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.
The comments came in an interview on CBS Sunday when Clark suggested McCain's experience as a prisoner of war did not alone provide the necessary experience to set the country's national security policies.
"I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility," said Clark, a former NATO commander who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told CNN the comments were "the lowest form of politics," and the Arizona senator himself expressed disappointment with the comments on Monday.
"I know that General Clark is not an isolated incident but I have no way of knowing how much involvement Sen. Obama has in that issue," he told reporters. "I know he has mischaracterized some of my statements in the past including our involvement in Iraq but I'll let the American people decide about that. "
Responding to the Obama campaign's rejection of Clark's comments, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said, "We've learned we need to wait and see what Senator Obama actually does, rather than take him at his word."
Meanwhile, in what appeared to be an attempt to soften Clark's comments, Obama said in speech Monday that "no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters of both sides."
"We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop," Obama said.
Update, 8:40 p.m.: Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) issued the following statement Monday night:
"There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.
"John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country – but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed – he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton and Barack Obama talked by phone Monday morning, representatives of both sides said, as the Democrats sought to quash rumors that Clinton holds a grudge against the man who knocked his wife out of contention for the party's presidential nomination.
Obama called Clinton and they spoke for about 20 minutes Monday morning, the Obama campaign told CNN.
Clinton wants to campaign "with and for" Obama after the hard-fought primary campaign between Obama and Hillary Clinton, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna said. Clinton "renewed his offer to do whatever he can to ensure Sen. Obama is our next president."
Obama "had a terrific conversation with President Clinton and is honored to have his support in this campaign," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.
The chairman of Sen. Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful presidential bid, Terry McAuliffe, said Sunday the former president was angered by media reports suggesting he did not plan to actively support Obama in the general election.
John McCain's military service doesn't automatically qualify him to be president according to retired General Wesley Clark.
General Clark is a former NATO commander who backed Hillary Clinton and now supports Barack Obama. He says that performing heroic military acts is not a substitute for command experience. Clark says he honors McCain's service as a POW, and calls him a hero. He credits McCain's time on the Senate Armed Services Committee and his travel worldwide, but he points out that John McCain hasn't held executive responsibility. General Clark says, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
McCain was more than just a fighter pilot, though. After being a POW, he went on to become the commanding officer of the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy.
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(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama defended his patriotism Monday, telling a crowd in Independence, Missouri, that his "deep and abiding love for this country" is the reason he is running for president.
"At certain times over the last 16 months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged - at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears and doubts about who I am and what I stand for," he said in President Harry Truman's hometown, just days before the Fourth of July.
Obama vowed to never question the patriotism of others in the campaign, adding "I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine."
(CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign announced the release of its second general election television ad Monday, a 30-second spot designed to highlight his working-class roots and economic agenda as he ends his three-week economy tour but continues his efforts to woo that key Democratic constituency.
Watch: Obama courts working women
The campaign said ‘Dignity’ will air in 18 states, including perennial blue-collar battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and some traditionally Republican areas where the presumptive Democratic nominee is hoping to compete in this fall, like Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
“He worked his way through college and Harvard Law,” says the announcer. “Turned down big money offers, and helped lift neighborhoods stung by job loss.”
The ad will begin airing Monday in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
Earlier this month, the Obama campaign’s first ad of the general election highlighted his patriotism and values.
(Full script after the jump)
(CNN) - Her husband may be running for the most powerful job in the world, but Michelle Obama says the couple’s lives are as boring as anyone else's.
"Barack and I don't have interesting lives, never did," the potential first lady told USA Today in comments published Monday. "We're basically family people. When we go on a date, it's either dinner or a movie because we can't stay awake for both."
The comments come as the Obama campaign has sought to soften Mrs. Obama's image among many voters who are less familiar with the Illinois senator’s outspoken wife. The campaign has retooled her stump speech to include more details about her family and humble upbringing on Chicago's South Side.
Watch: Michelle Obama's new image
She also made a recent high-profile appearance on the daytime talk show "The View," and graced last week's cover of U.S. Weekly under the banner headline, "Why Barack loves her."
(CNN) - One of the members of John McCain’s new Truth Squad - which his campaign says was launched to respond to unfair attacks on his record of military service –- was a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and appeared in an attack ad for the group in 2004.
The group was created to attack 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry’s military service record.
"How can you expect our sons and daughters to follow you when you condemned their fathers and grandfathers?" asked former Air Force Col. Bud Day, who was a prisoner of war with McCain in Vietnam, in a 2004 Swift Boat Vets spot.
McCain has said that he opposed the group’s efforts.
On a campaign conference call Monday, a Politico reporter asked Day if there was any similarity between former Gen. Wesley Clark’s controversial Sunday comments about McCain’s military service and his own remarks about John Kerry during the last presidential campaign.
Day dismissed any equivalence. "The Swift Boat 'attacks' were simply revelation of the truth. The similarity does not exist here," he said. "…One was about laying out the truth. This one is about attempting to cast a new shadow on John McCain."
What questions do you have for Seymour Hersh? Send us a video question and you could be shown on air in "The Situation Room"! Hersh has written a new article on Iran, published in this week's The New Yorker. He claims Congress has given President Bush the go-ahead to conduct clandestine operations in Iran. He also said in an interview on CNN that he thinks the Bush administration believes it must either attack Iran or stop its nuclear weapons program before the next president takes office.
What do you think? Sy Hersh will be in "The Situation Room" today and you can ask him a question yourself.
Send us your questions on video, and be sure to keep them clear and concise. Your videos could be used on air - and your views a part of the best political team on TV.
(CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent who is a strong supporter of Republican John McCain's White House bid, suggested Sunday the United States will likely face a terrorist attack in 2009.
The controversial comments followed remarks by top John McCain adviser Charlie Black late last week that a terrorist attack leading up the the general election would probably help the Arizona senator's White House hopes.
"Our enemies will test the new president early," Lieberman told CBS Sunday. "Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration."
McCain and his supporters have long argued the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is better-suited to handle the country's foreign policy challenges than Barack Obama.
Watch: Lieberman touts McCain
"[McCain] knows the world," Lieberman said. "He's been tested. He's ready to protect the security of the American people."
But Lieberman, who served as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, distanced himself from Black's contention that a terrorist attack would boost McCain's chances of winning the Oval Office.
"Sometimes even the best of them say things that are not what they intended to say," Lieberman said. "Certainly the implications there I know were not what Charlie intended. And he apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn't agree. And, of course, I feel the same way.
Lieberman, who calls himself an "independent Democrat," endorsed McCain in early December.
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign announced Monday it was launching a new Truth Squad to defend the presumptive Republican nominee’s military record after controversial comments by former Gen. Wes Clark, an Obama supporter, who said Sunday that the Arizona senator’s service in Vietnam did not mean that he was qualified to serve as commander-in-chief.
Leaders of the latest group include McCain’s fellow Vietnam prisoners of war Air Force Col. Bud Day and Marine Lt.Col. Orson Swindle, along with former Navy pilot Carl Smith, who served with him.
Earlier in the primary season, the campaign created a similar effort in advance of the presidential primary in South Carolina, where McCain’s 2000 White House bid was derailed by rumors spread by supporters of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
The South Carolina group included Adjutant General Stan Spears, state Attorney General Henry McMaster, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Seventh Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy.
Earlier this month, Barack Obama’s campaign launched an aggressive effort to respond to and discredit e-mail rumors about the presumptive Democratic nominee, including a new Web site that gives supporters the ability to upload their address books for rapid response messages and a chart that lays out alleged sources of misinformation.