Obama said his childhood years spent overseas have shaped his perspective on foreign relations.
CLARION, Iowa (CNN) – Presidential hopeful Barack Obama told an audience Monday that some of his strongest foreign relations experience comes from having spent four years of his childhood in Indonesia, and having family ties to Kenya.
After first mentioning that as a senator he's had "frequent interactions with world leaders" on fact-finding missions across the globe, the Illinois Democrat added, "But you know, probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in Asia - Southeast Asia."
According to the campaign, Obama was six years old when he moved to Indonesia in 1967, and stayed until he was 10.
Obama said those four years overseas, combined with the fact that his father is from Kenya, gave him the knowledge "of how ordinary people in these other countries live."
He then implied that simply going on congressional delegation trips isn't enough.
"Various people come and give you a tour of some factory or some school, and the children do a native dance … you have dinner with some important people, and then you maybe go on a shopping excursion, and then you leave," Obama said. "You don’t really get a chance to know what are in the minds of ordinary people in these countries."
He then implied that his time in Asia gave him additional foresight on the issue of Iraq.
"I have a better sense of how they're thinking and what their society is really like, and that's part of the reason why I was able to see what would happen when we went into Iraq," Obama said.
"I said at the time … the Sunnis and the Shias, they don’t agree on a lot of things, so if you think that suddenly they're gonna have this great democracy once we go in there it's just not, that’s not what's going on in the culture there."
-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch