July 23rd, 2007
09:36 PM ET
12 years ago

Differing diplomatic philosophies

(CNN) - The question was a simple one but it elicited one of the few differences between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so far in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination: "Would you be willing to meet separately during the first year of your administration, with leaders of Syria, Iran, Venezuela and others to bridge the gap between our countries?"

Obama said he would be willing to have such meetings. "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous," explained Obama.

But, Clinton hedged. She wouldn't promise outright to hold meetings with those countries the way that Obama had. Instead, she promised "a vigorous diplomatic effort" and explained "you don't promise a meeting until you know the intentions. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes and don't want to make a situation worse."

- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Eugene Elliott

    A good and moderate answer. Very mature and responsible. Presidential in fact, not that we have had a honest measure of that in 7 years.

    July 23, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Buck, Asheboro, NC

    Why can't Americans legally visit Cuba? After all, within years of Castro's death, won't it be like Cancun, except with a Disneyland?

    July 23, 2007 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. prov, RI

    Hillary is very smart, and it shows in her performance. You can just go to those leadrs woh hate us. You have to test the water first, like Hillary said. You have to see their intention. Her response to that question was brilliant.

    July 23, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  4. Tim, St. Louis, MO

    Um, is Hilary posting under the name Prov? I like Hilary but geez.
    I like Hilary's answer. Not jumping the gun and giving an answer everyone wants to hear.

    July 23, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. Maddy, Sioux Falls, SD

    Although I thought both answered the question well, I believe that Obama's answer settled better with me. In order for us to work with other nations we need to meet with them often and listen to what they have to say, Obama seemed to understand that better than Clinton

    July 23, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  6. Northern VA

    How can we ever resolve our conflicts worldwide without dialogue? Clearly the military approach is not the most logical first step in problem solving. The silent treatment does not appear to be generating solutions either.

    July 24, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  7. Michael, Des Moines, Iowa

    In a desperate attempt to distinguish herself from Obama, Hillary shot herself in the foot by saying she doesn't want to meet foreign leaders because she's concerned about being used for propaganda.

    Nancy Pelosi didn't have a problem with being used for propaganda when she went to Syria. She just did the right thing.

    Hillary should've exercised this caution before voting to authorize the Iraq war, killing more Americans than 9/11.

    July 24, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  8. Anthony, Copperopolis,CA

    Would discussing issues with dictators that we don't agree with be wrong? What propaganda are these dictators going to use? Give me a break! There is nothing wrong with taking to people who you disagree with..That is what is wrong with our policies. We seem to think that we are better than anyone else..

    July 24, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. Charlene, Boston, MA

    To think that settling deep rooted international disputes is like settling a playground brawl is naive. Hillary has the experience to know what to do in these situations. Obama knows what he wants to do, but in the end, he will be told by his advisers to do what Hillary would do.

    July 24, 2007 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  10. Glenn,B'ham,Al

    She has enough sense to know that talk during a knife fight, is a waste of breath.

    July 24, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Thursday, June 28, 2007 7:49 a.m. EDT
    Hillary Wants Talks With Iran

    Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Richardson on Wednesday urged the Bush administration to continue a dialogue with Iran as the U.S. tries to thwart the country's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    In separate speeches, the candidates offered a broad indictment of President Bush's foreign policies, from the Iraq war to the use of unilateral force to relations with Iran and North Korea.

    Clinton said the administration has given Iran "six years of the silent treatment."

    "In this vacuum, Tehran continues its progress toward developing nuclear weapons and increasing its influence in the region," she told the Center for a New American Security. "After initial talks with Iran and Syria on Iraq, the administration says it isn't sure that we need any more discussions with either of them. I think we should keep talking."

    Nuff said.

    July 24, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. mary spokane wa

    "a vigorous diplomatic effort"? What does that even mean??

    At least Obama spells it out for us-he IS definitely willing to meet with the leaders of countries whose governments may be drastically different than that of the United States. I believe that's important if lasting peace is a goal.

    July 24, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. Kent NH

    The question was Will you meet not How will you go about meeting. Obama was spot on, Clinton as usual wanted to show how tough she is(remember the pro war speeches she made in the run up to the war). She plays politics at every opportunity. Remember the question about Liberalism, well she made it sound like a disease… Score one for conservatives who have succeded in villifying liberals. Again she was trying to prove something…Do you see a pattern here, She’s always trying to position herself based on prevailing winds. Boy, the republicans will have a field day with her if she wins the nomination. I pity anyone who can’t see through her act.

    July 24, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  14. Matt, Coral Gables, FL

    Obama didn’t have the opportunity to respond to Clinton’s remarks regarding whether he would personally meet with them or not. When he said that he would meet with them, it could be that he was saying we (personally him) would meet with them, or it could be that he was saying we (collectively his administration) would meet with them. I like the idea that Obama would meet with them directly, regardless of any possible "propaganda", though.

    The only way to create change in those "bad guy" countries is by dealing with who is at the top. Castro isn't going to listen to his puppet lower government leaders, same goes for North Korea and Kim Jung il, and the Ayatollah isn't going to listen to what Ahmadinejad has to say (whether or not meeting with the Ayatollah directly would even be possible).

    July 24, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. Obang, Arlington, VA

    Do the people in the Senator Clinton campaign and CNN speak English?

    When did Senator Obama said, "Yes, I will meet with the leaders of CUBA, IRAN and KOREA?" Listen to what he said before jumping to score a cheap point like Hilary who is obviously dying to appear smarter politician than Obama, hence answered the question in a way that make it seem she was making correction on his answer.

    Obama criticized the strategy of the present government which has been refusing to engaging those countries, not leaders.

    Why do you pundits at the CNN keep on saying "he said 'yes, I will meet with those leaders'?" He never said yes I will meet the leaders and he never mentioned about a face to face meeting with any leader. The question was explicit about meeting with the leaders, however, the answer wasn't. And there is a reason for that. Actually, the Clinton campaign got a lead from CNN spin masters, to claim the same thing about his answer.

    Please let's not put words in peoples mouth. How about a little keeping 'em honest CNN style moment for those pundits like your Jeffry Tuben to go slow on their pro-Hilary spin?

    Hilary gave the answer that would make her look smart politician while Senator Obama gave the answer that is Original and inline with his overall campaign theme and character. That is what has been missing from this countries politics. Even the youtuber who asked the question, liked Obama's answer, as answered by Obama.

    July 24, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  16. Joe, London, Great Britain

    An expert, highly professional, and refreshingly appropriate response from Hillary Clinton.

    And a disturbingly naive, utterly inappropriate, and unashamedly populist answer from Barack Obama.

    Clinton 1 : Obama 0

    On the best approach to dealing with the world's worst dictators, Clinton would get my vote.

    July 25, 2007 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  17. Rachel

    There's a huge difference between a vigorous diplomatic effort and a Presidential meeting. Mrs. Clinton didn't advocate a Bush-like refusal to even engage with hostile governments, but wisely refused to commit herself to the kind of photo-op meetings that usually accomplish almost nothing. After all, one of the very few diplomatic achievements during the Bush Administration has been the talks with North Korea. Bush has never met with Kim Jong Il, nor would it help the situation if he did.

    July 25, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |