June 30th, 2008
08:41 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama rejects Clark's statement

Obama rejects Clark's comments, his campaign said.
Obama rejects Clark's comments, his campaign said.

(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. "

Watch: McCain upset over Clark's comments

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."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. Stacy

    Obama rules! He speaks I feel empowered. McCain speaks and I fall asleep zzzzzzzzz

    June 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Mattk

    Clark was right though. McCain does not have executive experience . His war record has nothing to do with his ability (or Lack thereof in this case) to be Commander in Chief.

    June 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. L

    I bet it pained you to do this. You cant stand having your image tarnished.

    All of America know McCain is a war hero as well as a long time senator, both of which qualify him for the US presidency.

    June 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. Phil, FL

    McCain and his supporters just whine and cry about everything.

    Get to the ISSUES McWarmonger. Stop with the fear. Make your flunkies stop with the fear. If you can't guide your flunkies, how can you guide a whole nation?

    June 30, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. jonathan

    DEMOCRATS HAND BUSH ANOTHER 163 BILLION DOLLARS IN WAR WE VOTED THEM INTO POWER TO STOP! AND DESPITE THE CONTINUED EVIDENCE OF REPUBLICAN CORRUPTION, THE DEMS JUST KEEP LYING TO US ALL MAKING THEM NO DIFFERENT THEN THE IDIOTS WHO GOT US INTO THIS MESS!

    June 30, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. BK

    Obama rejects it after he sent Clark out there to say it. Obama is a fraud and an empty suit.

    June 30, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. tony, Princeton, NJ

    I just don't understand all this fury with what Wes Clark said. Factually, what Clark said is absolutely true. If Mccain is offended by that remark, so be it.

    June 30, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Todd

    John McCain has no experience in foreign affairs. I worked for walmart when I was going to college, that doesn't give me experience to run the company.

    June 30, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. Phil, FL

    Nothing about a fear-monger like McLame qualifies him to be POTUS.

    He needs to stop with his buddies sending fear.

    No More Wars !!!!!!!!

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Greg, NY

    First of all, General Clark made a true statement. Senator John McCain's service to this country was and is heroic and respectable, but in no way does it qualify him to be the president.

    Second of all, Senator Joe Lieberman's statement that there will be another terrorist attack in 2009 is much, much worse than anything General Clark said.

    Where is McCain's repudiation of this statement?

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. McCain 08

    Clark is right.

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Bill Whitley

    Blah! Blah! Blah! We all know Clark spoke about the subject in the same manner as the BO camp does every day, full of hate for everyone who doesn't see things their way, and on and onl Could NEVER UNITE THIS COUNTRY.

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Kate, Atlanta

    "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. "

    McWar – what a joke. Obama should just say that he respects Clark's right to a learned, 4 star, opinion – and it's up to the American people to decide if they agree or not.

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. enomisa

    Same exact strategy Obama used against Hillary.

    Get your supporters out there to say the nasty....

    Then come and pretend to rise above it by saying you don't agree.

    Meanwhile the damage gets done, and the great Obama gets to keep his hands clean.

    We saw this all before....

    Get your people to do the dirty work of destroying your opponent for you.

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Da Don

    Can Brian Rogers give us a break, they asked for a rejection, BHO has

    done that, now they said they have to wait cos they can't take his word, t

    hey are making me sickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk to the stomach

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. George

    OBAMA>>>>>>>>

    CLARKS COMMENTS SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS TALKING FOR THE GOP>>>>>

    Everything he accused McCain of, looks like he was talking about you.

    No Experience. No Leadership and not Turst Worthy.

    June 30, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter from FL

    Most unfortunate picture of Obama ever.

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Ian M

    Being a POW does NOT qualify you to be President. Sorry. It makes you unfortunate. I especially don't want a former POW as my President because he probably has PTSD and snaps and screams at people and stuff.

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. RGiles

    McCain seems to talk from both sides and like when trying to have it both ways when they criticize Obama as not having Commander in Chief experience and yet take offense when it is pointed out that McCain really doesn't either. Rightful credit is always given him for being a POW and all but the only extensive real experience he has is as a Senator and with Washington as usual – exactly what we desire to get away from. It seems ridiculous to cry foul when the truth is pointed out (that their experience, while different, is pretty equal) especially after criticizing the opponent – who is really trying to be an elitist?

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Jon

    Obama is a coward. He has avoided debating McCain since wrapping up the nomination. He just sends his pathetic lackies out to do his dirty work and then sits back and says I have nothing to do with it. This is the man who the Obama lovers think is going to change things for the better. Unbelievable how stupid, uneducated, and desperate people have become. BUT BY THE RULES OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, HE WILL HAVE TO FACE MCCAIN THREE TIMES. THAT WILL BE THE END OF THE OBAMA LEAD AND THE END OF HIS CHANCES TO WIN. Think about it people, he first refuses to debate McCain and then says ok I will debate when the fewest people would be watching (on July 4th). COWARD

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. John in Ohio

    McCain really was a terrible pilot. On the other hand, Clark was a terrible general.

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. What's wrong with what he said?

    He's absolutely right.

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. NV Female voter for Obama

    Thing is, what did Gen. Clark say that was not TRUE? It is sad that future PRESIDENT Obama has to side-step and apologize to everyone for everything anyone says that is in support of him (Obama), trying to be deferential to other candidates, everyone from HRC to John McCain...Obama is too accomodating to these folks! Comes a time when one fights fire with fire and I think that if McCain is going to hurl accusations about Obama's credibility or trustworthiness, than a true statement by a retired military GENERAL should be fair enough...again, especially because it is TRUE...Fight on, Obama!!
    Obama '08 and '12
    YES WE CAN!!!

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Otanes - Atlanta

    Can someone explain what is so wrong with what General Clark has said? He did not dishonor MCain's service or his sacrifices as a POW; all he said is just being a POW does not make one to be more qualified to be a CIC.

    June 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Obama = Carter's 2nd term

    Wow!!! What are all those Obama backers going to say now after they have been bagged on Mccain service. I would say that you do the same that many have been telling Hillary backer to do and that is take the lead from the person you support.

    I doubt that most will but that is good. It just shows both your faces to more people.

    June 30, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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