December 28th, 2007
06:25 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama beats back Clinton's 'politicizing' claim

Obama went aboard the CNN Election Express Friday

Obama went aboard the CNN Election Express Friday

ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS, Iowa (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama sharply pushed back on rival Hillary Clinton's earlier suggestion that his campaign is politicizing the death of Benazir Bhutto, telling CNN it is the Clinton camp that is doing the politicizing.

"The Clinton campaign started pushing this notion, immediately after this happened, that somehow this was going to advantage their campaign, and one of my campaign aides responded," Obama told CNN's Jessica Yellin. "But I think what the American people are concerned about right now is not how it impacts the vote in Iowa, they're concerned how it's going to impact the long term national security of the United States of America, and that's what we have to stay focused on."

In a Clinton interview with CNN earlier Friday, she said recent comments from top Obama strategist David Axelrod that seemed to draw a line from her initial support of the Iraq war to Bhutto's death amounted to "politicizing this tragedy."

"I just regret that he would be politicizing this tragedy, and especially at a time when we do need to figure out a way forward," Clinton said in the interview.

Obama said he had never met Benazir Bhutto, and has not met Pakistan President Pevez Musharraf, but said his judgment in not supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq was more important than prior international contacts.

"Ultimately, this isn't about who you met with, it's about the decisions you make about the American people," he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, Obama also took aim at John Edwards, suggesting his rival’s current campaign mantra of taking on Washington's special interests is at odds with his past. (Related: Obama, Edwards direct fire at each other)

"I just think you look at the track record. What John is talking about now is not what he was talking about four years ago," Obama said. "It is not what he was talking about eight years ago."

"On issue after issue he now says he made a mistake," he added. "But when he suggests he's somehow going to fight on behalf of the American people then, I have to point out my track record of fighting on behalf of working families has been unwavering."

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Jessica Yellin

soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    I watched both the Obama and Clinton interviews. Clinton as usual gave a speech rather than answer questions, and put on her "angry, presidential" face. This women has so many faces and is so power hungry it is almost pathetic. She will bring only more division and bitterness to a government that is already stalemated.

    Obama answered the question while Blitzer kept trying to heighten the controversy. I agree with Obama's assessment that this is the "Washington spin". We need leaders who have not become jaded to a dated way of "doing business".

    December 29, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Prince, Cedar Falls, IA

    This goes out to Hillary supporters: If we think it's wrong for Putin to want to continue his power in Russia, Chavez to continue his power in Venezuela, Musharraf to continue his power in Pakistan, why on earth do you people think it's right for Bill Clinton to continue his power in the USA? He had his 8 years, you KNOW he'd play his cards if Hillary was President. This is just WRONG for the USA. If our country's founding fathers had had the foresight to know that someday women would vote and have the opportunity to become President, I would place my bet that they would have written that a spouse NOT be allowed to become President. Being married makes 2 people 1, look it up; financially, legally, etc. Mr and Mrs Clinton have BEEN in the White House, it's time to move on! ABC! Anybody but Clinton!

    December 29, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Reggie, Germany

    spelling: Where is CNN tough coverage of Hillary's bogus claim of experience based on her being First Lady???

    December 29, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Steve, New Haven, CT

    Pro-Clinton bias at CNN? You must be kidding. Barak Obama has had one of the great free rides in political history. If Hillary Clinton's aide suggested that a vote by Obama might have established an environment for assassination in Pakistan...all hell would have broken loose. The media has played the same game with Hillary that it did with Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004...nick away at the strongest or inevitable candidate,,,make them look silly if they get to far ahead and try to make a horse race out this nomination process. After all what would the talking heads have to do until August...actually cover the news?

    In 2000 and 2004 we ended up with the most unqualified President in history. While I believe that both Barak Obama and John Edwards have infinitely greater intellectual curiosity, sensibilties and platforms...I am concerned about another President with virtually no understanding of the geopolitical players, strategies and issues. Clearly, Dodd, Biden and Richardson lead the pack with regard to their levels of foreign policy experience; however, to belittle Hillary Clinton's experience as an activist first lady in the White House and in Arkansas is not only insulting to her it is downright wrong. She was criticized for her some are saying that she was not active enough. Don't forget that in addition to her duties as First Lady she served many extraordinary causes. Moreover, her eight years in the Senate equal that of JFK and the combined U.S. Senate experience of Edwards and Obama (although it is hard to credit Edwards with more than two years in the Senate since he ran for President his last four years and Obama has run almost his entire term). Hillary has been pilloried by the is time for some equal treatment both in terms of face time for those extraordinary candidates who have been typecast as also rans and more critical analysis of Obama and Edwards, both of whom have been spared such analysis.

    December 29, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Kelvin

    Intelligent, respected, innovative, HONEST....What's not to admire about Senator Obama? This is our moment America. Lets grab it.
    Scripted, poll-driven, sense-of-entitlement,....guess who?
    In 2008, lets honor America's well-earned reputation for democracy, not monarchy.
    P.S. By the way, how did a person who wasn't even living in a state (and had never been elected to anything), run for and win a Senate seat? Could she (oops!) be riding her husband's coattails?????????

    December 29, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Hawk,Texas

    Obama was the one that said he would run a clean campaign. first thing out of the box he hauled out the mud wagon. he talks about some ones voting recors when he has missed 80% of the votes. the congress voted to go to war on bush's lies. he talks about his experience. he has none. he is just a big cry baby wanting to play the big time. all of you out there that supports obama better wake up. this country is in enough trouble with out putting a fake like OBAMA in office. if he had been from anywhere but illinois he probably would not even been elected to the senate. if you want more of bush vote republican. if you want some one to try and straighten this mess out. vote for an experienced democrat, but not Obama. GO HILLARY>

    December 29, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Andy Schweig

    It is really interesting to read all of the comments that speak against Obama. Not one can really present a substantiated reason why he will not be America's next great leader.

    Anyone who spends time listening to him realizes that his moral basis and clarity are unprecedented in ANY candidate we have had in decades. He may not be the best "politician", but his candor and intelligence has resonated with hundreds of thousands of Americans. More Americans have donated to Obama's campaign than any other candidate in the HISTORY of the United States.

    This is for someone who no one knew just 4 years ago. Why? Because I think all of these people recognize potential greatness when they see it. It will be a sad day if Barack Obama isn't the president come January 2009.

    December 30, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Mr. Unite Us

    Obama did and excellent job of setting the record straight,
    but will the media widely report .

    The fact is right after Bhutto was assasinated Clinton aids and some media outlets were speculating that this would benefit Clinton.

    Axlerod was asked about the speculation and he responded
    Note that criticize Axelrod never mention the question he was asked.

    December 30, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
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