July 26th, 2007
01:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama calls Clinton 'Bush-Cheney Light'

Obama campaigned in New Hampshire Thursday.

CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama left little question as to his position on diplomacy with enemy states Thursday, days after his response to a question during Monday’s CNN/YouTube debate drew sharp criticism from opponent Hillary Clinton.

“I’m not afraid to lose the P.R. war to dictators,” Obama said in a speech in Concord, New Hampshire Thursday, where he picked up an early Granite State endorsement from first-term Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes. “I’m happy to look them in the eyes and say what needs to be said... I don't want Bush-Cheney Light.”

In a later conference call with the press, Obama continued on the topic: “Part of the Bush doctrine has been to say ‘no.’ You'll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs.”

The day following the CNN/YouTube debate, Senator Clinton called Obama’s willingness to meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba “irresponsible” and “naïve.” Clinton, responding to the same question Monday, said “a vigorous diplomatic effort” with such nations is necessary, but said “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’s Lauren Kornreich and Mark Norman

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Sean, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Obama is absolutely correct that we need to engage in diplomatic relations with these countries that are "rogue" states. Why would the leader of the free world whose country is TRYING TO SPREAD DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM across the world not meet with a dictator? Anyone that rejects this idea, including Bush, Cheney, Romney, and Hillary, is an idiot, ignorant of the facts and the world they live in.

    Obama is the hope candidate. Pure and simple.

    July 26, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. Jeff Ross, Brooklyn, New York

    We can sometimes act careless with our responsibility as a “super power” and yes we faultier, with every slip our “enemies” and “friends” look for ways to further pull us down so we must make sure not to fall in there traps as the Bush administration has done.
    Mrs. Clinton is right in her decision to hold talks with emerging nations whose intensions are not fully clear and whose stance has been to hate our way of life in our free and democratic society.

    July 26, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Shardule, Boston, MA

    Agreeing with Michael from Washington, DC, CNN, you really messed up on this one.

    In no shape or form did, 'Obama call[s] Clinton 'Bush-Cheney Light.'

    Barack's stance shows that he has some guts aside from just good talk. His quick response during the debate scared me a little bit as if he was reacting out of having to push his forward thinking philosophy (anyone else notice that?), but if he is saying what he truly believes, then I will support him 100%.

    July 26, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Carol Wallace, Hudson, FL

    Barack Obama is right. She waffles back and forth. She can be called mini-Bush/Chaney. Stick to your guns, Barack – go get 'er.

    July 26, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Lisa A Chlany UAE

    Go Obama!!! I could never actually vote for a "chameleon candidate". That is one who changes colors, sides, tactics and views (on war, etc) according to political climate. You make a decision, you stick with it and face the music. Otherwise it's parading and there have been enough parades and grand-stands.... makes me feel repeat Bushisms are comin on.

    No,sireee. I'm holding out for Obama.

    July 26, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Bradley Pittsburgh Pa

    The last thing we need is the son of a Radical Muslim in office. Obama has no chance. His nice clean cut style might win him some votes. He voted for the war and the funding, and the reason he would talk with Iran is because he has the same beliefs.

    July 26, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. James Jacobs, Chicago, Illinois

    I too must critisize CNN for mischarcterizing Obama's comments. From the text of story, Obama never calls Hillary "Bush-Cheney lite"–he only says that he does not want to be this and that he can't see a distinction between Hillary's and Bush's policies regarding this issue. The headline caught my eye because it seemed out of character for Obama to engage in such sound-bite name calling. I was right. Shame on you CNN for casting the rare political figure who does not play polictics in the way we have all come to hate as just like the rest of them.

    July 26, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. rob madison CT

    Obama has a point, The rest of the world would view his actions as a welcome turnaround and departure from the current global atmosphere of US imperialism. But I agree that he ought to be cautious, you never quite know what you might end up creating, just ask G.W.

    July 26, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Charly W Redding CA

    It is naive to think that the strategically formulated YouTube question directed to Obama was not a setup and that Clinton had not rehearsed her answer. Clinton uses her experience to bring down hope. Obama is right: Clinton demonstrates politics as usual rather than change with this “nice fabricated controversy”.

    July 26, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Lyn, MD

    In case many of you forget. Hillary started this debate by going on the radio the next day after the debate to refer to Obama as naive. This from a woman who trusted George Bush, that if she gave him the authority he would not go to war. "Who is Naive"?

    July 26, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Lisa A Chlany UAE

    To Sue P.

    So... "even the name says it all", right? OK, Sue P. I getcha. Sue Pee, y'know ... you may just be on to sumtink. (Wink Wink)

    Let's all, er ... vote on .... names and what they say, reveal, look-like (sighhhhhh.... and we truly thought this was the age of intelligence ha ha ).

    July 26, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Joe, Philadelphia

    I'll never understand why more Americans aren't outraged over the fact that America was led into war based on a lie. Nearly 4,000 American soldiers have come home in body bags and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead...all because George Bush and Dick Cheney fabricated intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq. Unless the majority of Americans actually push this matter and demand Bush and Cheney be held accountable, they will both have gotten away with one of the greatest crimes in modern history.

    July 26, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Christian, Palmetto FL

    Barack Obama is correct in this matter. America can no longer afford to take the unrealistic and egomaniacal stance that talking to dictators "rewards" them and not-talking to dictators "punishes" them. It doesn't work anymore. Clinton says she is worried about being used for propaganda purposes; and yet, President Bush has been consistently used for propaganda even without talking to a single undesirable world leader. We saw that clearly when Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations.

    Yay for Obama and his diplomacy stance!

    July 26, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    I'm not a Clinton supporter but on this issue I agree. There's is nothing wrong with meeting the opposition. Therefore,we need to know what their demands are and such a meeting deserves intensive and extensive preparation which definitely should not take place during the first year of a Presidency. Of course, the end results will be the usual, an "impasse" once the non-Democratic countries are unwilling to follow Democratic views or policies. Thank You.

    July 26, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. Walker, Montgomery, AL

    I think that most people aren't worried about talking with authoritarian regimes or dictators so much as they are about concessions or collaboration with oppressive governments. I admit that I was taken aback by Sen. Obama's comment, but U.S. presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and others have spoken with the leaders of such governments directly. The worry is that the senator's approach would be reconciling the United States with foreign governments without keeping U.S. interests paramount. Sen. Clinton is most likely right that certain parameters are necessary for dialogue, but Sen. Obama is not making as bold of a statement as it sounds.

    July 26, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. Tom, Columbus Ohio

    Hillary Rocks! She is a shoe-in to win!

    July 26, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Larisa, Chicago IL

    "It is naive to think that the strategically formulated YouTube question directed to Obama was not a setup and that Clinton had not rehearsed her answer. Clinton uses her experience to bring down hope. Obama is right: Clinton demonstrates politics as usual rather than change with this “nice fabricated controversy”.

    Yes Charly, it was a set-up question. But let's not forget that this question was directed to all candidates. And it was obvious that expected answer was: Yes, I will talk to them. Let's be honest, and at least give Hillary credit for going against expected and be honest about her position. It's definitely easier to go against current Bush's position (which is a complete disaster and shame for America in any respect). But she did not refused to talk, she refused to promise this talk in the first year outright and without any preparation. I think it's more mature and responsible. And by the way, I like Barak Obama very much, but his constant referral to Reigan dialog with Gorbachov resulting in the end of cold war is not very accurate. It seems to me that Americans keep forgetting that Gorbachov was a new leader of U.S.S.R. who tried to turn this huge mammoth country in the direction of openness and democracy. In the end he failed, but what he started could not be stopped. And THAT ended cold war, not President Reigan with all due respect.

    July 26, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Wallace, Chicago, Illinois

    WAIT Guys... Stop and look at the Article. CNN is to blame.

    Look again. Obama never called her "Bush-Cheney light". Look again.

    Please stop this nonsense CNN, we don't need another FOX News. Please.

    July 26, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. Amanda, St. George UT

    Such an interesting discussion, I have a couple of points to discuss:

    The first is in regards to the many commenters who relied on the bromide “stick to his guns” in referring to the superiority of Obama’s political stance.

    I would like to pose the question, is this the sort of attitude that would actually benefit the world?
    In a world that is continually changing and growing don’t we need a leader that is prone to adaptation? Someone who can call a mistake a mistake, take responsibility for it, and move on? Isn’t one of the largest issues with Bush that he obstinately and immaturely refuses to admit to his mistakes and FIX them?
    In refusing to “flip flop” on his stance on the war, isn’t “sticking to his guns” exactly what our so widely hated leader is doing?
    I am certainly not asking for a fickle or capricious leader, but is changing one’s mind always such a horrible thing? Also, let us remember that Obama himself has admitted that had he been in the senate, he cannot guarantee that he would have voted against the war.

    As far as Clinton’s stance on being used as propaganda by foreign leaders, the idea is extraneous. Should our president choose to meet with them, there will be negative propaganda, should he/she choose to refrain from such meetings, there will be negative propaganda. The issue of meeting with such leaders should not be about propaganda, but about whether or not the meeting will fix the issues at hand, which is why preconditions are often necessary.

    Also, I would like to echo the comments on many above in saying shame on CNN for their sensationalist journalistic tactics in this story/headline. Obama’s words were certainly misconstrued to add to the drama of this story.

    My last issue is with posters, we all know who they are, using this discussion to throw out derogatory and hurtful words/phrases. I would like to echo Elizabeth Edwards in her call to stop this election from being tainted with hate dialogue. As a 21 year old student I find that all this mud slinging keeps youth from being interested in politics, which is simply a shame considering what an exciting political time we are entering.

    Thanks for reading, keep on discussing!

    July 26, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Lajuanda, Dallas TX

    I am really disappointed with how CNN chose to title this piece. This is not what Sen. Obama said at all. How misleading. I'm sorry to say that I find CNN's sensational, conflict-evoking, attack style of presenting the "news" these days is not very "trustworthy."

    July 26, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. South Carolina, the 1st Southern Primary

    Most Democrats are not much better than the Repubs… HRH Hillary being the prime example.

    There are a few exceptions to the above statement … like Obama, Edwards, and Kucinich (possibly Biden).

    The Repubs are an accident waiting to happen, and HRH Hillary is on the side of the road with her hood open, waiting for help, from anyone.

    Obama is a caring individual who is being forced to play the game of politics, just to get in a position to clean up the mess Bush and his cronies have made.

    Obama means hope. Obama means change. Obama is the future of America. He may have to get his hands abit soiled just to get TO the West Wing, but his integrity will win out.

    Obama will BE the next US President, and a damn good one at that !!

    July 26, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. Clark, Butte County, California

    Doesn't CNN get the message that this attempt to create a squabble is getting so little response. The people who are making a choice will do so on the solutions each candidate can develop for the real issues.
    Will CNN be viewed as the source to learn about the candidates serious thinking or as the source that just tries to stir up controversy so that their employees don't have to work so hard?
    I want a candidate who will evaluate issues critically, listen to the citizens whose lives will be affected, and come up with multiple positive solutions that they can explain to the voters. If a candidate has a plan A, then they had better have a B (and maybe a C plan, too).
    CNN please resort to serious reporting.
    This stuff is wasting my time!

    July 26, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  23. Adam, Houston, TX

    I was dismayed with the fact that the only three candidates that got attention where Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. CNN, like the rest of the Corporate-controlled media picked its favourite candidates and made the decision for American public regarding which candidates deserve our attention and which ones we should ignore.

    Dennis Kucinich who is full of fresh, good, and clear ideas. He did not get anywhere near the attention or time despite the fact that he has a great record and very specific ideas on all major issues effecting the country today. But then again he is does not have the deep-corporate filled pockets that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have.

    I guess if my choices came down to Clinton or Obama, Obama will get my vote. Obama has been a far more consistent record than Clinton on all major issues. Obama's position has been consitent on both foreign policy and domestic issues, and he voted against a war that cost over half a trillion dollars and claimed over 600,000 American and Iraqi lives... A war which experienced Senator Clinton fully supported until very recently. I would vote for Minnie Mouse before I'd vote for Clinton.

    July 26, 2007 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  24. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Obama is silly and naive, and he shares the naivety of George Bush when he didn’t know the name of a foreign country when asked by a reportor during his first election.

    Obama is now desperate and red-faced because his comment on meeting with foreign dictators has exposed his inexperience to international protocol and politics, in comparision to Hillary’s. After George Bush’s fiasco bankrupting the american reputation abroad, america needs someone strong in international politics, and Hillary is a strong one of the democratic candidates.

    Distance may lend enchantment; but all that glitters may not be gold. The fact is that Obama is new, inexperienced, untested, fluffy, and a monday-nite quarterback. God bless america if he gets nominated and elected.

    Hillary rocks!

    July 26, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Sarah, Fayetteville, AR

    I agree with Obama, but my issue is with the article's title. Obama did not call Clinton "Bush-Cheney light". He compared her position to Bush's. The media should not create catchy titles at the expense of accuracy. This does nothing but perpetuate the Swiftboat style politics of '04.

    July 26, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
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