October 13th, 2007
08:23 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama: Clinton doesn't know where she stands

Watch Obama go after Clinton Friday in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Illinois Sen. Barack Obama attacked New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on Friday for saying earlier in the week that she would negotiate with Iran "with no conditions."

"A couple of months ago, Sen. Clinton called me naive and irresponsible for taking this position," said Obama. "[She] said that we could lose propaganda battles if we met with leaders we didn't like."

Obama was referring to Clinton's criticism of him after he said in a July debate that he would meet with controversial world leaders without preconditions.

"Just yesterday, though," Obama continued, "she called for diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. So I'm not sure if any of us knows exactly where she stands on this."

That wasn't the only shot Obama took at Clinton in a speech marking the fifth anniversary of congressional authorization of the war in Iraq. (Related: Obama: It's time to show where I differ from Clinton)

He also went after Clinton for being the only Democratic candidate for president currently supporting an amendment that contains strong language against Iran.

The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, according to Obama, provides another blank check to the current administration. The Illinois senator claims it could give President Bush an excuse to keep troops in Iraq "as long as they can point to a threat from Iran."

Responding to the criticisms, top Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said, "When Sen. Clinton used the term "no conditions," she was referring to meetings between the United States government and Iran, not personal meetings with the President. She was striking a contrast with President Bush who has refused to allow the U.S. government to talk to Iran about its nuclear weapons program. Senator Clinton has repeatedly said throughout this campaign that she would re-engage the world diplomatically and end the cowboy approach to diplomacy that has been used by the Bush administration."

Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    First things first, the question in the YouTube debate was not whether the candidates would agree to unconditional negotiations with Iran, but whether they would promise to meet with Ahmadinejad (and other controversial world leaders) in their first year in office without preconditions. Sen. Obama said "yes," and Sen. Clinton said "no."

    On the other hand, Sen. Clinton has NEVER refused to negotiate with IRAN; in fact, she has averred her intention of doing so. In stating that she would negotiate unconditionally with Iran, she in no way implied that she WOULD meet with Ahmadinejad; in fact, if you check the Q&A behind the story, she called him a "figurehead."

    So, Sen. Clinton knows exactly where she stands both on negotiating with Iran and (not) meeting with Ahmadinejad. But perhaps, Sen. Obama is unclear about what HE agreed to in the YouTube debate.

    As for Kyl-Lieberman: in February of this year, Sen. Clinton warned President Bush that he didn't have the authority to invade Iran. Kyl-Lieberman does NOT confer such authority, much less any sort of "blank check" in dealing with Iran. But if Sen. Obama sincerely thought that it did, then the Kyl-Lieberman vote must have been the most important vote of the year to him. He must have moved heaven and earth, not to mention stayed in Washington to warn his fellow senators of their up-coming folly and BEG them with all his eloquence to change their minds. But no, what he actually did was go to New Hampshire for another day of campaigning. Can't have too many of those. It's obvious that he ducked the vote to avoid taking a political risk and now has the temerity to distort what Kyl-Lieberman says to score political points.

    All he had going for him was this "politics of hope," stuff and the promise to "bring the country together." And yet, he's prepared to distort Sen. Clinton's statements and votes to bring himself up in the polls. Sleazy.

    October 12, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Finally Obama is taking the gloves off. There's so much to attack Hillary on its not even funny. Iran vote, Iraq vote, her PR guy works with Blackwater, Sandy Berger her advisor stole classified documents, she is as pro lobby and pro corporation as it gets, she takes more money than any other democrat in the senate and all but one republican from the HMOs and big pharma companies. She's bought and sold by the establishment and its time that Obama started pointing out the facts.

    October 12, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Wayne, Silver Spring

    Hill-arious! Did Hillary just flip-flopped with negotiating with Iran after calling Obama inexperienced?


    MSM, please! do your job

    October 12, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Coach Haughon NH


    Posted By MAURICE, WASHINGTON, DC : October 12, 2007 2:43 pm

    A president who says he will meet with foreign leaders without pre-conditions...Like JFK did...Gives people A lot of hope.

    Like it's possible to run for president and not point out disagreements with your opponent.

    It's good to take a strong stance against a nation like Iran...But remember who the current President of the Unites States is.

    We should not make new military action easier to sell for George Bush.

    Lets wait till we have somebody in there we can trust.

    October 12, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Buggie, San Diego, CA

    Mr. Obama,

    I am saddened that you have decided to go negative with your campaign. After watching John Edwards throw in the towel and step into the darkness with his attacks, I didn’t think anyone, especially you would fall into the same trap. It is clear that you oppose everything Mrs. Clinton says and does, and that is fine, except that you have stopped telling us what positive actions you would take instead. Negativity hangs in the air like a foul odor until it is blown away by a positive action. Your new negative campaign strategy is causing irreparable harm to your credibility. It will not work.

    So here we are…Mrs. Clinton has a positive outlook and a bright vision for America. While you are wallowing in negativity and don’t seem to be able pull yourself out. Will you continue to follow Mr. Edwards down that dark path or do you have something better to offer the American people? Step back into the light my friend, step into the light!

    October 12, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    Obama is a Republican-lite. Who coined the flip-flop phrase? Next he will be calling Hillary a major leauge (bleep). Obama needs to just stop selling his ying-yang and get on the winning team and support Hillary. She is qualified, experienced and she is READY TO LEAD.

    October 12, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Alex, CA

    Why on earth would you support Hillary? I don't get it....seriously. What does she offer? Obama has better judgement and understanding of the issues.

    The difference is; Hillary asks Bill what she should say/do/act, then responds to questions and criticisms. Or if people like Obama's or Edwards idea, she will take it and make it her own. Obama looks at the issue, goes through a thought process, and answers.

    So Hillary supporters, tell me why you would choose her over Obama?

    October 12, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Tom, Oklahoma City

    How could anyone really take Hillary seriously? I'm a die hard republican and wonder where she earned her so-called experience? Hosting parties for Communist lobbyists over 35 times while her soon-to be-impeached, lying, cheating husband granted the last bastion of communism (China) most favored nation status for the 1st time in US history? She has no credibility whatsoever, and yet I wonder whay anyone sees in her. Let her work for WalMart!

    October 12, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Bethany, St. Louis MO

    Obama was present for the Iran vote the day it was to take place. However, the vote was postponed. Obama was only told about the reschedule an hour before the vote took place...and he was in NH at the time...sorry, he didn't vote, but there was no way he was going to make it back on such short notice.

    October 12, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.


    FYI, as Sen. Clinton pointed out in the very Q&A that people are twisting to try and make her look inconsistent, Ahmadinejad is a figurehead. The Supreme Cultural Revolution Council actually is the highest decision-making body in Iran and they tell Ahmadinejad what to do. According to Juan Cole of "Informed Comment," probably the best blog on the Middle East, Ahmadinejad is about as powerful as the Vice-President of the United States.

    Furthermore, there's a HUGE difference between unconditional negotiations between the Iranian and United States State Departments and an unconditional promise to hold a face-to-face principals' meeting between President Clinton and Ahmadinejad in the first year of a Clinton presidency. Face-to-face principal meetings are held AFTER major issues have been agreed in lower-level meetings, not BEFORE.

    No doubt Sen. Obama has learned this by now. But clearly he is hoping that you haven't. It's good that you're not disappointing him.


    You're the one who doesn't get it. Unconditional talks doesn't mean that Ahmadinejad (but actually the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council) gets to dictate to an American president whom its representatives will and won't talk to. It means that the American president won't demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear power program or stop funding Hezbollah, or anything of this nature before agreeing to talks. It also likely means that the two countries' state departments will cooperate in setting the agenda.

    October 12, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Bethany, St. Louis MO

    What is with the emphasis of Obama's middle name...my middle name is Ann, does that make me a WASP? My boyfriend's middle name is Salvatore, does that make him conected to the mob?

    October 12, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    I really don’t know where some people come from – under rocks? The statements regarding Hillary getting where she is only because of Bill, that she hasn’t done anything in the Senate, that she won’t be able to work with Republicans…. Where does this come from? I’m not saying she’s the greatest Democrat to ever run for office but, these allegations are baseless.

    If she was guilty of all these things, why did she win in NY from even heavily Republican districts? Have you listened to her make a speech? Does she sound like she doesn’t have any ideas? Does she seem unable to put 2 and 2 together? I think not. She has impressed me very much with her broad knowledge of the issues.

    Stop listening to the sound bites that misrepresent.

    October 12, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. MC for Obama

    Hassan and Hussain (both of which are derived from the Arabic word hasuna, which means “to be good”)

    October 12, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Coach Haughton NH

    Hussein Obama is just contributing to the dirty tactics of the Republican Party. This is just last gasps of a drowing man. There is no doubt in my mind that Hussein Obama is just the hope that the Republican Party had for him become the nominate so that they can tear him apart. Why doesn't anyone starts looking at Hussein's record.

    Posted By Arturo Universal City,Tx : October 12, 2007 4:25 pm

    I agree completely that we more people should look at Barack Obama's record. Most people who have...are voting for him. And the name Hussein which may influence the votes of the ignorant actually means nice in arabic.

    That name was around long before saddam and doesn't indicate anything about ones character. My seven year old know the old "whats in a name" saying.

    Not saying it's all of you. But just one more two digit IQ prisoner of Hillaryland.

    October 12, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. xtina - chicago IL

    Most campaign speeches these candidates are making are mud-slinging and unimportant things. Let's compare what conserv. candidates have actually done that indicate how good they'd be managing our country's finances. Example, Mayor Guiliani cut taxes several times and reduced crime to a great degree in NYC. That's great experience. Gov. Romney took a billion dollar bankrupt entity (the Olympics in SLC) and make it profitable. Amazing and almost unbelievable.

    Now what have Obama and Clinton done except re-arrange tax money and take more of it from you?

    October 12, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote.

    That may be so. But "I" know where she stands on all issues–and I like everything I see.
    Also, Mr Obama, lately you have been stating your own positions and attacking Ms' Rodham Clinton at the rate of 1 to 5.
    Are we feeling a bit free-falling, perhaps, Mr Obama?

    October 12, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Amy L.

    hey OBAMA! just shut up! we are getting sick of your daily crying becuase your losing...

    your not even in CLINTONS league!

    October 12, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Yesterday CNN reported that Ms Obama was on her way to give a major policy speech in some reputable forum that I cannot recall. There has been no follow-up.
    CNN, please next time you make an annauncement of that sort, have the coutesy to give us a follow-up. It's just fair.

    October 12, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Ron, TX

    What?! Wolfson said: "she was referring to meetings between the United States government and Iran, not personal meetings with the President."

    NO SHE WASN'T! She said -I-! "I would engage in negotiations with Iran, with no conditions"-Word for word quote. How on EARTH could ANYONE take that to mean she meant "the government"? Those filthy weasels...

    I guess it depends on what your definition of "I" is...

    October 12, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Observer, Jacksonville, FL

    Listen people! All this talk about Clinton being better presidential material than Obama is just based on the fact that these people cannot bear the thought of Obama being president. It is a racial thing! That is petty for a great nation like ours.

    October 12, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Dorothy L


    You are so right and a smart man. You took the words right out of my mouth that the only reason people are hoping on Hillary is for a BEDROOM POLITICS with BILL to make decisions for America.

    I will start calling Hillary supporters Bedroom Politicians.

    How low can we get? I can see the world calling us BEDROOM Americans like we don't have more qualified people.

    Hillary will never win it, I live in a free country not in a free bedroom.
    She has no experience, what is she hiding in her library during her days in the White House? Let her reveal the memo to support her experience claims because it is the right thing to do.

    When a politician starts hiding something it means there is a skeleton in the closet.

    May God help us to make the right choice for America by voting OBAMA 08!

    October 12, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. pl. at the UN for a while.

    What's the story/idea/truth regarding Ms Michelle HUSSAIN Obama? If that is really her middle name, it is a great piece of information. And I thank the writer.
    If it is not, then it is a highly reprehensible, and inexcusable act of character assassination. And I apologise on behalf of the writer.

    October 12, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Carrol Ann, Newport, Maine

    A message for John Edwards and Barack Obama:

    Hillary is tramping around America in her "Middle Class" bus, pounding out issues that resonate with real people who have real problems.

    I'm getting the feeling that she's leaving you both behind in the dust....

    October 12, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Ladies and Gentleman
    Sen. Obama has officially enter the SPIN zone... I heard her speech, there was no flop, he is just mad she called him naive, he is 20+ points behind and someone at his campaign told him to swing for the fences... politics of hope indeed

    October 12, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  25. VanReuter NY NY

    She stands 25 points above you in the polls...


    October 12, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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