December 22nd, 2007
06:09 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama touts support of Bill Clinton's foreign policy officials

Obama said he has more support from Bill Clinton's foreign policy officials than Hillary Clinton does.

WASHINGTON, Iowa (CNN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Friday that it "should raise some pretty interesting questions" that, according to him, more of former president Bill Clinton's foreign policy advisers are supporting Obama than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

"Why is the national security adviser of Bill Clinton, the Secretary of the Navy of Bill Clinton, the Assistant Secretary of State for Bill Clinton—why are they all supporting me?" Obama asked rhetorically.

"They apparently believe that my vision of foreign policy is better suited for the 21st century."

Obama was responding to an audience question that pointed out the support he's received from the former Clinton officials.

The Clinton campaign was quick to respond, saying it's "false" to claim that more of President Clinton's foreign policy officials support Obama than Clinton.

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, "Sen. Obama is attacking Sen. Clinton by making demonstrably false claims about his foreign policy credentials that only raise more questions about his own lack of experience."

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. RT, CA

    Why Clinton will prevail
    John Sasso
    By John Sasso
    December 22, 2007
    SOME RAINDROPS have started to fall on Senator Hillary Clinton's parade to the Democratic presidential nomination. In the early primary races of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, rival Barack Obama has pulled even or ahead and the longstanding Clinton badge of elective inevitability has come under question.

    more stories like thisDespite the Barack Obama zeal, I believe Clinton will prevail. And if she is the nominee, I believe she is the most electable and least vulnerable Democratic candidate to face the Republicans.

    I was more uncertain a year ago when she announced her candidacy. Then she had recognizable strengths but at the same time possessed familiar handicaps both political and personal. She was routinely portrayed as contrived, a woman whose high intelligence had an impersonal edge and whose real identity was difficult to locate.

    That was then. Today Clinton has forged herself into a formidable political leader. She has undergone a remarkable journey. In the face of unending autopsies on her personal and political past, unrelieved targeting at both Democratic and Republican debates, the punishing demands imposed on a woman candidate, she is still standing unflinchingly in place.

    This is the mark of thoroughbred candidates. They take the fire. They survive the wounds. And while voters relish the spectacle of office-seekers squirming under adversity, something else happens at the same moment. If candidates demonstrate they can bear that kind of public barrage with conviction and ready composure - and Clinton has done that - they cross a crucial threshold in the public mind. They are viewed as able to compete and win a national election and able thereafter to govern in perilous times.

    Why the most electable Democrat? Because after a year of being tightly measured, Clinton has won a public acceptance that she has the intellect and inner confidence to do the job. She has reached beyond her political inheritance and shaped a political presence all her own. Hillary belittlers still abound, to be sure. She is still caricatured as calculating. But the senator has taken on some different markings. Gone is the defensive bite, on hand is a new openness to concede mistakes, often with glints of humor.

    If she does capture the nomination, she will see her standing soar overnight. Nomination is a transforming passage. What was viewed by some as calculation becomes smartness, impersonalness becomes thoughtful deliberation.

    Once nominated her campaign will undergo another transformation. Her candidacy will take on an historic aura as it confronts an historic question - can a woman, this woman, be elected president? Americans will be caught up in crossing one of the country's great divides. Voters of both parties, not just proud women, will be favorably disposed to make that crossing. Americans like the good feeling of removing barriers.

    This gender phenomenon showed up in the Geraldine Ferraro campaign, which I managed. At every stop, huge crowds turned out, eager to be part of history in the making. By campaign's end, two things seemed clearer to me: there is inherent goodwill for a woman seeking power but a far sterner demand she be up to the challenge. That higher bar asked too much of Ferraro. Clinton has already cleared the bar.

    Why the least vulnerable Democrat? The day the Democratic nominee becomes obvious the Republican attack machine will spring to action. Always, the opponent is a target to be eviscerated. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, a man less intimately understood and less defined, Republicans will rush to manufacture their own brutal definition. Can Obama withstand that kind of barrage? Does he have the personal makeup to be as relentless as his opponents? Do past political positions leave him vulnerable? Because the risks are sky-high, these questions need to be reasonably raised and answered beforehand.

    Clinton is well past negative redefinition. Unlike John Kerry's 2004 campaign in which veterans opposed to Kerry's candidacy challenged his war record, it will be difficult to ram a Swift Boat into her candidacy. If there is a convict in her political past, as with Willie Horton during the Dukakis 1988 campaign, he will already have been exhumed. Besides, the Clintons are veteran enough to mount a withering counterfire of their own.

    The most vulnerable Democrat, Clinton is not. The most electable, she is. America's political landscape, this time around, looks fertile for the right Democratic candidate. But one day, surely, the country will elect a woman president. I sense that moment – and that woman – has arrived.

    December 22, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  2. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    I realy hope Barack loses these primaries. He's not ready yet. 4 or 8 years as VP would certainly help. Get humble, admit your limits, and become Hillary's VP. Now that's a winning ticket!

    December 22, 2007 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  3. Mrs. America

    If Obama is using former Pres. Clinton's advisers, why is he always on Sen. Clinton's case about going back to the 90s? Seems like he wants it both ways. So now I don't know which way he's going–back to the 90s or into the 21st century. Doesn't really matter to me what he says. I think any one of the top six Dems running would make a fine president.

    December 22, 2007 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  4. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    "Why is the national security adviser of Bill Clinton, the Secretary of the Navy of Bill Clinton, the Assistant Secretary of State for Bill Clinton—why are they all supporting me?" Obama asked rhetorically.

    Well, Barack, let me put it this way. How many bridges do you think Bill burned while he was trying to cover up his philandering? Catch a clue, we know why it is, just don't act like it is because they like you better. They HATE him more.

    But, then again, a day after Hillary shows up with so many of Bill's former administration employees standing on the podium with her, why not tout your own Clintonistas? After all, you're the CHANGE candidate! But I see you're gaining EXPERIENCE now.

    December 22, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  5. Matt A. , Marietta, GA

    Wow Hillary, you need to go away. You by no means have the most experience. If I'm not mistaken, Biden is the most experienced Democrat running right now. You're not even close to being the most experienced. First Lady of Arkansas and U.S. do not count as experience.

    December 22, 2007 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  6. Bruce, LaSalle, IL

    Hmm. The last time I checked, we didn't need the politics of the past.

    Clinton Administration Officials = the past.

    Barack Obama = empty suite.

    December 22, 2007 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  7. James, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Obama campaign should stop distorting facts. Obama is worse than Clinton.

    Edwards 08

    December 22, 2007 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  8. Jes, Bethesda, Maryland

    Wow. Obama does make a fair point. I never really thought of it that way, but why else are all of the former Clinton officials wanting to work for Obama?

    I think they believe he has a much better vision and he is going to win.

    One point CNN: Obama suggested a lot of former Clinton advisers are working for him, but he never said MORE advisers are working for him. So, technically you are putting words in his mouth.

    "according to him, more of former president Bill Clinton's foreign policy advisers are supporting Obama than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton." (This is an incorrect statement)

    December 22, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  9. Eric, NY, NY

    You could believe a statement that has no facts behind it from Obama or you can choose to read the words of one Amb. Joe Wilson

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-wilson/the-real-hillary-i-know-_b_77878.html

    December 22, 2007 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  10. Jim, Cherokee

    to continue Senator Obama presented a list of 47 Of President Clinton's past advisor for foreign affairs. In response the Senator Clintons team provided a list of 80 and aloud there were more. Why is Senator Obama attacking Senator Clinton with such nonsense? Because he has no record to stand on so he must attack ... I still feel that Senator Obama is unelectable. I am a strong Democrat and have been for years, but will not vote for Senator Obama for President. However I do think that Clinton/Obama in 2008 is an unbeatable team. Senator Obama can then receive the seasoning t grow. Senator Clinton for President 2008.

    December 22, 2007 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  11. Independent in IA

    Nah....these guys just know that they will be able to say anything, and you'll eat it up like candy.

    December 22, 2007 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  12. Bernie Moore-Knowles - Papa'aloa, Hawai'i

    Phil Singer? Do you honestly believe that voters buy into your *****? Please, no response is better than what the Clinton campaign throw out. You tell 'em, Obama! I think it is an interesting statement to the Obama campaign – the fact that old Clinton supporters are backing and working with Obama? "Hillary, get ready to work for Obama, honey."

    December 22, 2007 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  13. Lorenz, Queens, NY

    Good job Obama

    December 22, 2007 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  14. Independent in CA - getting really tired of the bu!!$hit

    QUESTION TO FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON: "Hey Bill, why do many of your former foreign policy advisors back Obama over your wife?"

    ANSWER: Probably because they've been out of a job for so long that they've
    run out of unemployment checks - and Hillary's wants fresh faces on HER staff.
    ____________________

    The Times of London: 'Stay-At-Home' Barack Obama Comes Under Fire For A Lack Of Foreign Experience - Fresh doubts over Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials were expressed on both sides of the Atlantic last night, after it emerged that he had made only one brief official visit to London – and none elsewhere in Western Europe or Latin America.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3080794.ece

    There was also strikingly robust criticism from an independent Washington think-tank about a 'disconcerting void' over transatlantic relations in Mr Obama's foreign policy, as well as from a former British Minister for Europe.

    Steve Clemons, the director of foreign policy at the New American Foundation in Washington pointed out: "Someone who is seeking the presidency should have some facility for the most important anchor in global affairs, which is the transatlantic relationship. The major threats in the 21st century are changing but what is not changing is the vital necessity of Europe and the US collaborating in meeting those challenges with Europe, for instance, in the lead on dealing with Iran. This is a very disconcerting void in Obama's profile."

    Denis MacShane, a Minister for Europe in Mr Blair's Government, said he had been troubled by comments Mr Obama had made on the Middle East peace process and the prospect of military action in Pakistan. He added: "A lot of people are CONCERNED THAT INTERNATIONAL POLICY IS NOT HIS STRONGEST SUIT, JUST AS IT WAS NOT WITH GEORGE BUSH IN 2000." (AND geez look where that got us, sounds like Senator Obama is thinking of invading Pakistan??!!)

    Mr Obama also met Mr Blair twice in Washington, and Nicolas Sarkozy, then the French Interior Minister. But anecdotes are circulating in Washington about how he has turned down requests from other visiting foreign dignitaries, such as an Italian opposition leader who was told that the senator was in "PRESENDENTIAL MODE" and only seeing leaders of countries.
    __________

    So has anyone established whether or not Junior Senator Obama "Is Smarter Than a 5th Grader"? 😉 AND can he find North Korea and "PAKISTAN" on the map?

    Apparently so much for hoping to be able to work on a par with the rest of the World Leaders! At first this guy was interesting, then he was annoying, now HE'S BECOMING DOWNRIGHT SCARY. Doesn't anyone actually take a hard look at a candidate's "credentials" before they hop on the bandwagon and start beating the drums?! Hillary may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it would appear that everyone already knows everything there is to know about her – since she's lived in a goldfish bowl for the past 20 some years = Think I'd rather dance with the devil I know, than take a chance on going home with the one I don't know – and end up paying the price!! So guess I'll take another look at the GOP. Romney's not too bad, but anyone who straps his dog's kennel to the roof of his car, then takes the family on vacation is a dolt. Too bad McCain is a warhawk, at least he has the most integrity. Maybe I just won't vote at all, and let you Demwits get stuck with another unelectable candidate. (AND everyone wonders why the GOP always wins duh!!)

    December 22, 2007 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  15. fu, manchester, new hampshire

    The Obama's foreign advisors are rejects, or 2nd tier experts, from the hillary's camp.

    December 22, 2007 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  16. Independent in CA - tired of the same LAME "talks a good game"

    Senator Obama's "PRESENT VOTES" while in the IL State Senate is extremely troubling to me:

    "Among those, Mr. Obama did not vote yes or no on a bill that would allow certain victims of sexual crimes to petition judges to seal court records relating to their cases 😦 He also voted PRESENT on a bill to impose stricter standards for evidence a judge is permitted to consider in imposing a criminal sentence.

    On the sex crime bill, Mr. Obama cast the lone present vote in a 58-to-0 vote. Mr. Obama's campaign said he believed that the bill violated the First Amendment. The bill passed 112-0-0 in the House and 58-0-1 in the Senate."

    😦 "Mr. Obama was also the SOLE "PRESENT VOTE" on a bill that easily passed the Senate that would require TEACHING RESPECT FOR OTHERS IN SCHOOLS. He also voted "PRESENT" on a measure to PROHIBIT SEX-REALTED SHOPS FROM OPENING SHOPS NEAR SCHOOLS OR PLACES OF WORSHIP!!!It passed the Senate. In both of those cases, his campaign said, he was trying to avoid mandates on local authorities."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/20/us/politics/20obama.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    ROCHESTER, N.H. – Democrat Barack Obama on Thursday lamented the sour tone of the presidential campaign, but insisted he and his wife have created a protective bubble around their two young daughters. BUT APPARENTLY NOT AROUND THE REST OF THE INNOCENT CHILDREN IN ILLINOIS??!! AND AMERICA!!!

    December 22, 2007 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  17. alan St Louis MO

    ha ha ha that is so funny. I can imagine the wicked witch of the west throwing a temper tamper. Her face bright red and spiting out hatemongering remarks behind doors. As Bill on his knees begging for forgiveness. HA HA HA LOL

    Obama has a life time experience serving public office. Hillary ONLY HAS 6 YEARS in the senate

    And that six years was spent serving Bush and his failed policies.

    SHE IS THE ONLY DEM RUNNER THAT VOTED YES TO START BUSH 3rd WAR IN MIDDLE EAST But the Intel report came out and countered the warmongering wishes to case a war with Iran.

    Even her foreign judgment is flawed. She the only DEMOCRAT RUNNER voted yes to sound the drums of war with IRAN.

    What really steams her and her blind sheep supporters is that.

    They have to make racist, hatemongering remarks, or flat lie to bash on Obama. I can see why that make Clinton supporters mad. They have to become racist, hatemonger, liers to keep there support for Hillary.

    But to bash on Hillary all you have too do is look in a history book, Her senate voting record, or go to internet search engine and you find a life time full of Clinton crimes and corruption.

    Biden or Obama 2009 the Real experience and American JUDGEMENT we need in Washington DC

    December 22, 2007 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  18. Eric, NY, NY

    But he lied by saying he had more former Clinton people than Hillary does. Remember when CNN went bonkers over the clergy in South Carolina for Hillary? Where is the sam outrage?

    December 22, 2007 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  19. Elihu Root, VT

    Curious that a lot of Obama's foreign policy team are former Bill Clinton officials who weren't subpeoaned or indicted! The Clinton campaign protests too much.

    December 22, 2007 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  20. Marcy Drewells Iowa

    Again, obama has no orignal thoughts or solutions what so ever! he's continues to claim every other candidates solutions! Ladies, its time! Send him back to oprah

    December 22, 2007 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  21. J. Wilson

    Yesterday the London Times reported central questions about Senator Obama's shocking dearth of international experience: "Fresh doubts over Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials were expressed on both sides of the Atlantic last night, after it emerged that he had made only one brief official visit to London – and none elsewhere in Western Europe or Latin America." It also reported: "Mr. Obama had failed to convene a single policy meeting of the Senate European subcommittee, of which he is chairman."These basic facts, coming from a major foreign newspaper, are a sobering counterpoint to a gushing Boston Globe editorial that endorsed Obama for having "an intuitive sense of the wider world with all its perils and opportunities." Intuition may be a laudable quality among psychics and palm readers, but for a professional American diplomat like myself, who have spent a career toiling in the vineyards of national security, it has no relevance to serious discussion of foreign policy. In fact, Obama's supposed "intuitive sense" is no different from George W. Bush's "instincts" and "gut feeling" describing his own foreign policy decision-making. We have been down this road before.Barack Obama attended elementary school in Indonesia before the age of 10, his chief period of time abroad. I, too, spent years overseas in my formative school years. While the experience certainly whetted my appetite for international relations, it did not provide me either with "intuition" or expertise in the conduct of my nation's foreign policy. My understanding of international affairs came from twenty-three years of professional diplomacy, much of it spent overseas dealing at senior levels on crises such as serving as the acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq stationed in Baghdad during the first Gulf War.
    Senator Obama echoes and reflects the same attitude of contempt for "on the ground experience." Acting on his superior "intuition" he has proposed unilateral bombing of Pakistan and unstructured summits without preconditions with adversaries such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il. As we have learned, the march of folly is paved with good but naïve intentions. After he came to Washington, Obama's views were thoroughly conventional and even timid. In 2004, he said about the 2002 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force: "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know." On Iraq-related votes in the Senate, Obama's record identically matches Senator Clinton's–with the exception that Senator Clinton voted against the confirmation of General George Casey as Army chief of staff. Obama's vote was typically passive.Senator Clinton for President, because we know that she has the experience and the judgment that comes from having been in the arena for her entire adult life–and from close personal participation with her in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. And we have trust in her to end the war in Iraq in the most responsible way, consistent with our national security interests.

    December 22, 2007 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  22. Raymond, Norman OK

    YYYEEESSSS! For Obama!

    December 22, 2007 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  23. Mark Williams

    ITS TIME WE INSIST THAT CNN REPORT ALL SIDES OF OBAMA AND STOP THE BOGUS HILLARY STUFF? THE VOTERS ARE TIRED OF THIS BOGUS COVERAGE!
    (informative article)
    Yesterday the London Times reported central questions about Senator Obama's shocking dearth of international experience: "Fresh doubts over Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials were expressed on both sides of the Atlantic last night, after it emerged that he had made only one brief official visit to London – and none elsewhere in Western Europe or Latin America." It also reported: "Mr. Obama had failed to convene a single policy meeting of the Senate European subcommittee, of which he is chairman."These basic facts, coming from a major foreign newspaper, are a sobering counterpoint to a gushing Boston Globe editorial that endorsed Obama for having "an intuitive sense of the wider world with all its perils and opportunities." Intuition may be a laudable quality among psychics and palm readers, but for a professional American diplomat like myself, who have spent a career toiling in the vineyards of national security, it has no relevance to serious discussion of foreign policy. In fact, Obama's supposed "intuitive sense" is no different from George W. Bush's "instincts" and "gut feeling" describing his own foreign policy decision-making. We have been down this road before.Barack Obama attended elementary school in Indonesia before the age of 10, his chief period of time abroad. I, too, spent years overseas in my formative school years. While the experience certainly whetted my appetite for international relations, it did not provide me either with "intuition" or expertise in the conduct of my nation's foreign policy. My understanding of international affairs came from twenty-three years of professional diplomacy, much of it spent overseas dealing at senior levels on crises such as serving as the acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq stationed in Baghdad during the first Gulf War. Senator Obama echoes and reflects the same attitude of contempt for "on the ground experience." Acting on his superior "intuition" he has proposed unilateral bombing of Pakistan and unstructured summits without preconditions with adversaries such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il. As we have learned, the march of folly is paved with good but naïve intentions. After he came to Washington, Obama's views were thoroughly conventional and even timid. In 2004, he said about the 2002 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force: "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know." On Iraq-related votes in the Senate, Obama's record identically matches Senator Clinton's–with the exception that Senator Clinton voted against the confirmation of General George Casey as Army chief of staff. Obama's vote was typically passive.Senator Clinton for President, because we know that she has the experience and the judgment that comes from having been in the arena for her entire adult life–and from close personal participation with her in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. And we have trust in her to end the war in Iraq in the most responsible way, consistent with our national security interests.

    December 22, 2007 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  24. JH, Iowa

    Obama will have to surround himself with foreign policy advisers, that's exactly what Bush had to do. How'd that work out for us? I prefer a candidate who has their own knowledge and their own experience to make these important decisions. We need a president who is respected by foreign leaders, who knows how to work with them and has the ability to bring change globally. Joe Biden is the only qualified candidate to do this. He has been doing it for 30+ years. Look at his record.......impressive!

    December 22, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  25. nina, ny, ny

    Obama is coming out as dishonest politician more he tries to justify his lack of policy experience. Please Obama just grow up

    December 22, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
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