July 29th, 2007
08:30 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama comment fires up senior Clinton official

The war of words between Clinton and Obama continued Saturday

(CNN)–Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said he is disappointed with Senator Barack Obama's comments earlier this week about Senator Hillary Clinton. In a stop in Concord, New Hampshire on Thursday, Obama referred to Clinton's approach to foreign policy as "Bush-Cheney light."

"Not only is that not correct, it is a distortion of Senator Clinton's comments and her record," Vilsack said. "But it flies in the face of the promise that Senator Obama gave to all of us when he began his campaign of avoiding negative politics and campaigning with politics as usual."

Vilsack, a Democrat, is the national co-chair of Clinton's presidential campaign.

The Obama and Clinton campaigns have been involved in a war of words over how they would engage rogue governments if elected president. At last Monday's CNN/You Tube Debate, Clinton said she would not meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela without precondition. Obama, invoking John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan's diplomacy during the Cold War, said that he would meet with leaders of those countries during his first year in office..

Clinton said she did not want to see the power and prestige of the office of the presidency used for what she called “propaganda purposes.” .

"I'm not afraid to lose the P.R. wars to dictators," Obama said Thursday. "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 press conference call Saturday, Vilsack took issue with Obama. "Those comments are so wrong, one could say certainly audacious, but honestly they are not particularly hopeful. And I am disappointed in the Senator."

"This is a substantive debate during which she called Obama irresponsible and naive," said an official with the Obama campaign in response to Vilsack. "Obama has been entirely consistent - he never said he would invite dictators over for a cup of coffee and he said he wouldn’t let these dictators use him as a propaganda tool. What he did say was that he would be willing to meet with them."

Obama campaigned in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.

–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Ed Huddleston, Fort Worth, TX

    I was under the impression that the purpose of the democratic party was to rid this country and the world of this Bush/Cheney machine once and for all. This bickering and name calling between candidates that want, basically, the same thing is playing right into the hands of the evil they are trying to get rid of. How about trying to be civil to each other for a change? Work toward the same goal.

    July 29, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Mike Dallas, TX

    Here comes the Clinton News Network again.
    Why don't you also add a sentence to point out that the Clinton campaign recently retired Vilsack's debt from his failed campaign. Then, there will be a CONTEXT to the story.

    July 29, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Deborah

    Don't pick a fight you can't finish Hillary. And then don't send your lackey to whine about it to the press when you start taking a punishment

    July 29, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. Dave, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    I agree wholeheartedly with Vilsack's comments. I am a fan of both Hillary and Barack. But I am disappointed in Barack with respect to this recent issue.

    First, his comments clearly distort what Hillary said. Mispresenting one's adversary is the sort of thing we see with the Republicans. Engaging in this sort of political dialogue is a disservice to the American people and it should be avoided at all costs.

    Second, I wish the two campaigns would stop feeding the media with this sort of crap. The last thing we need as a party is to divide ourselves between Barack and Hillary. If their infighting continues to grow, the supporters of each will wind up resenting the other candidate. The reality is that one of these two will be the Democratic candidate. The last thing we need is for the disgruntled supporters of one of these candidates to sit out the election. I know this sounds ridiculous, but let's face it, there are scores of ignorant people who think this way.

    July 29, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Bob Hastings

    I'm a democrat but not happy with the field of candidates, particularly HC.
    She is her husbands clone and part of the "political elite" that's run this country for decades..I don't care if it's Democrat or Republican..they all speak or double speak the same language.
    She's flip-flopped more than a fish out of water. She's now anti-war and pro-veteran..I seem to remember when she was first lady she didn't like seeing the military presence around the white house.
    Obama says he'll speak to our "enemies"..HC said she would too(previous speech)...now she says with preconditions. With all of her "experience" with the political elite
    I would have thought she'd learned something from recent history.
    Seems funny to me that we go to war and after the war when dead are mourned and buried we go into business
    together with past enemies.Germany, Japan and Italy..WWII.. now business partners. China..Korean War..now BIG business partners..Vietnam..how many Big Macs and bottles of Coke sold there now and new trade agreements recently reached?
    I like Mr. Obama's idea...MEET with our enemies, find out face to face what they want.Offer a business deal. Sure beats the "diplomacy" that's been used lately.
    Is that too simple?..well I'm now a simple man and present politics give me a headache.
    B.H, Combat wounded, disabled 'Nam Vet

    July 29, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. James Cole, Largo, FL

    I completely disagree with the media and Republican take on Obama's statement about meeting with foreign leaders unconditionally. I think it displays courage and thinking outside the box. If there were ever a time the U.S. needs to shake up Washington, and show the world were not a bunch of arrogant bullies, it is now! Besides, it is too obvious that the Republicans want Hilliary to win the nominee, they have had a political plan to deal with her for over a decade now.

    July 29, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  7. Yan, Montreal, Canada

    She can't just assume that because he's trying to run an inspirational campaign that he's gonna be her doormat/bunching bag. I'm glad to see him standing his ground.

    July 29, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  8. cliff jones, honolulu hi

    Isn't it about time for Barack's Blogging Boogies to go back to school? Hey guys fun times over. It's getting old.

    July 30, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  9. Mark Billingsley

    Vilsack is a crony and yes, CNN should have reported that Hillary retired his outstanding campaign debts. I don't know if I would have trotted out a former candidate who was polling fourth in his own state before he quit. That's pretty embarrassing. Obama never said he'd turn the other cheek if we was attacked in this campaign. In fact, he said he'd respond in kind because he didn't want to seem like John Kerry in 2004 – who ran perhaps the worst presidential election in modern times. You won't be able to swift-boat Obama and get away with it. And can we all please stop with the "Obama isn't experienced enough" crap? He has more elected legislative experience than Hillary. Hillary supporters will calim her years as first lady in Arkansas and the U.S. Well, that's like me saying that since my wife has been a doctor for 20 years, and since I traveled with her to many a symposium and conference around the world, I'm qualified to practice medicine. Would you go to me for medical advice or allow me to operate on you using that "experience"? Didn't think so. So why would you vote for Hillary based solely on the experience factor. Vote for the candidate that every poll, time and time again, who shows he can beat ALL of the Repugnantcan candidates head-to-head.

    July 30, 2007 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  10. W.R., Arlington, Virginia

    Wow!!! E.N. I am seeing your point in a different light. That makes Obama a flip flopper. He opposed the war yet funded it. So what you are saying is if he opposed it he should have also opposed funding it. Hillary on the other hand supported the war based on lies and funded it as well. At least she stood her ground on it did not flip flop, just as Kucinich didn't. That is he (Kucinich)opposed it and didn't fund it. So of the three the only flip flopper is Obama who opposed it yet funded it. Now that's major flip flopping...wow!!! another interesting way of looking at these primaries.

    July 30, 2007 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  11. Monique, Austin, TX

    I CHALLENGE anyone on this political ticker to debate me on this issue. Before typing a rebuttal, please do me a favor and read the facts before typing up some comment that has no solid argument, but just attacks Clinton’s character. It also makes me yawn.

    BEFORE the debate, Senator Obama was interview by the Miami Herald and discussed that he would meet with Hugo Chavez only “under certain conditions.” During the debate, his response changed to “without precondition."

    If Clinton was really going to use negative politics, she would have called Obama on this one case of flip flopping.

    Obama could have offended himself by not adding “Bush-Cheney light,” but the fact that he compared Clinton to the current administration is using negative politics. And like Vilsack said, Obama did promise not to campaign on such negative politics. Furthermore, his “Bush-Cheney light” remark also shows his lack of knowledge of his opponent’s base. Clinton has been advocating for foreign diplomatic talks since her first term in the senate.

    Democracy was founded in Greece on the idea that its citizens were knowledgeable about the issue at hand. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but such thoughts can be tangled up by mere feelings of shallow distaste. Do you think attacking candidates will really progress such serious issues?

    “Whenever the people are well-informed, they
    can be trusted with their own government.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    July 30, 2007 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  12. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    After watching the Debate I have to agree that Hillary was by far the winner. Biden came across as a Credible and Knowledgable Leader. Edwards although always displaying a less than genuine persona I felt came in third. But he still gives me the impression he is saying just what he feels Americans want to hear which is a turn off for me. Too bad he couldn't somehow change the face he shows the world. As I have half an impression the real Edwards hiding behind this other persona would secure more votes if he could just put his real self out there.

    I was very disappointed with Obama in the debate. In the first debate I watched I felt he did a great job. But in this debate, his answers seemed to be all over the map and he couldn't seem to center in on his point or get his point across in a Presidential like fashion.

    I'm sure if Hillary had been asked the question first about meeting with International Leaders Obama's response would have been very different. And I don't feel Edwards or Biden would have answered that question the same had Hillary not answered it first. It was very clear that no one on the debate team had the wisdom on international diplomacy that was so clearly inherent with Hillary.

    I also found Hillary and Biden displayed the greatest wisdom on the questions regarding the Iraq War. I also feel Obama's repetitious spiel about Hillary voting for the war is Old Hat. He should bury that line as it is only making him look petty and immature. There were many that voted for the war besides Hillary who now regret doing so. You can't change the past but you can learn from it. It's time for Obama to move on. He's losing points on that rhetoric.

    In my view, Richardson came across as Lame and Dodd came across as a Man who's primary interest was proving to the public he had the credentials to get the job done. But for me his manner in displaying that fact didn't prove his point. Serving one's country and having Uncles and Grandfathers as Generals a Leader does not make.

    Kuinchi Sp? for me was nothing short of an aggrevation. If he had spieled out the number for Peace one more time I would have had to turn off my set.
    Make your point once and get on with other issues. But even on the issues he came across as less than crediblie as a Leader.

    Hillary was the Leader of that debate hands down. Her presence alone permeates a Presidential aura and her comments cement her presence. I truly believe if Americans don't endorse Hillary they will be missing out on a great leader. Given the other Democratic Candidates she is clearly the most knowedgeable and capable Leader.

    The Republicans in my view don't even have a Candidate with any possible Leadership qualities. Guilani, Romney and Thompson are a far cry from Presidential Material. They are nothing more than Bush Clones. God Forbid the world should have to suffer another Bush! Newt Gingrich is definitely doing the right thing by pulling out as he wouldn't stand a chance. I'm smiling as I type that line. As I think it is too phunny he would even think himself a possible Leader.

    I wonder if I signed this as Mrs. Canada if it would be posted? Nah I better not I think Mrs. America is the only one with those privledges.

    July 30, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. Kidane, Amsterdam Netherland

    The difference of ideas and tolerance is the factor that makes democracy florishing. So if Obama differs with Clinton that what America stands for.It was and is like that in America during Debates.Think of The African leaders in which Democracy is a dream, no freedom of press.

    July 30, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  14. Chima Ordu, York, PA

    Obama was by far the winner in this last debate, and ALL the focus groups that the networks put together, made up of registered voters in South Carolina (even the FOX NEWS foducs group), ALL said Obama was the winner.
    Sorry, but your opinion is that of the minority.

    Since you claim Hillary is the one we should vote for, then explain to us why she is vehemently advocating a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq, when last year, she was vehemently opposed to a timetable for withdrawal, claiming it would "embolden the enemy."

    July 30, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    The Democrats are very hopeful that Giuliani doesn't get the nomination because they understand that his credibility on terrorism and crime would be very difficult to match. Add to this the fact that Clinton is viewed as a political opportunist and has unusally high negative ratings, and you are looking at a very difficult road for the Dems in 2008.

    Dems want Romney first and foremost because he has NO chance. Second, they would be fine with Thompson because they know he is a joke.

    July 30, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    As a proud Arkansan who grew up with the Clintons, I just wanted to say how very thankful I am to know that so many of you realize that these people are people of unusually bad character. Given that three out of the last four presidents have been absolute jokes I sometimes worry that we will all be duped again into falling for someone like Hillary. However, after seeing all the astute observations on this site, and MANY others, I now realize that there is simply no way Hillary will garner enough support to contend for the presedential race in 2008.

    Thank you!

    July 30, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Ed, North Carolina

    The Clintons should take the next bus to Arkansas.

    July 30, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Chima, PA

    I guess your new to this blog or you would by now have seen my three posts outlining why Hillary is the most experienced, knowledgeable, intelligent, diplomatic, internationally known and respected, hard working, most accomplished humanitarian ie: children's health programs, women's rights issues and Military/Veteran Assistance than any other candidate in the race. She is also a power house debater and political orator. I dont' see her as a Flip Flopper but as someone who has the courage to stand on her beliefs and someone who gets things done.

    But hey, if you say "ALL the focus groups that the networks put together, (note my underline here)Made up of registered voters in SOUTH CAROLINA
    (even the FOX NEWS foducs group), ALL said Obama was the winner." it must be true! But if I may make a point.
    All Registered voters in South Carolina and the Fox News Focus Group do not speak for all Americans or the world.

    And I didnt hear Hillary vehemently advocating a timetable for troop withdrawl. I heard her agree with Biden that to pull all troops out now would cause greater loss of life for military and Iraquis' and that a Diplomatic not a Military Strategy was needed. The progress of war is ever changing therefore if she had a different view a year ago that would not be difficult to understand. Bush has had a different view every day and month. All Wars have to be assessed and strategized on an ongoing basis.

    Hillary was the first and only as far as I know, who has given Americans the chance to discuss her views with her one on one through her internet site and via telephone call ins. What other candidate has made themselves available on a one to one basis to discuss their views.

    July 31, 2007 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
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