January 8th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Voinovich takes aim at Obama

The CNN Ticker

Voinovich had some tough words for Obama Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, a key moderate Republican in the Senate chamber and influential member of the Foreign Relations Committee, scoffed Tuesday when asked if Sen. Barack Obama has the foreign policy chops to be the next president.

"He hasn't any experience in foreign policy. Give me a break," Voinovich said of his colleague from Illinois, who also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Many people think it would be good to have "somebody that was of his background" become president, Voinovich said, because it would be a "good message in terms of culture."

But Voinovich warned "things are very fragile in this world" and "we're pinned down all over the place. It's not going to be an easy deal for our next president to come in and deal with these problems.

"Between now and the election there are going to be many things that are going to happen in this country that will have an influence on people's choice in terms of who the next president will be,' Voinovich said.

Speaking to reporters on a teleconference after a trip to some of the world's hot spots in Europe, India, and the Middle East, Voinovich said Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, are the most versed candidates on foreign policy, while former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., has the best overall management experience.

It was bad management that got President Bush into trouble, said the Ohio senator, who at one point blocked confirmation of John Bolton, Bush's choice to become ambassador to the United Nations .

"People thought he'd be a much better manager than he was," Voinovich said of the president. "Even though he's dedicated himself to management, I think some of the screw-ups that have occurred have really hurt him. A lot of Republicans are disappointed because they frankly thought he'd be a better manager."

- CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. ReversethinkerMN

    Bush earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. The first Harvard MBA to be president, right? He was surrounded by experienced managers from his father's administration. He screwed up. So much for experience. Give me a break!

    January 8, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. john

    Many people think it would be good to have "somebody that was of his background" become president, Voinovich said, because it would be a "good message in terms of culture."

    What BACKGROUND or CULTURE are you referring to, Senator Voinovich? I don't think you mean because he is from Hawaii.

    It was the great foreign policy experience of people like you, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld that got us in this mess in Iraq. You voted for the Iraq War and then you and the GOP Senators absolutely abdicated any responsibility to exercise oversight. So that's what we need now? More of that?

    Sen. Obama has wisdom and good judgment beyond his years. He will be more effective on American foreign policy on his first day than you've been in all of your pointless years doing next to nothing on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    January 8, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. Katy

    Excuse me? How about a report on the actual pre-presidential foreign policy experience of each of our past presidents. Most had NONE! And Hillary Clinton claims experience by osmosis. John McCain is a distinguished war veteran held captive by the enemy and would deserve respect, but has become a puppet of the Bush administration in support of ongoing war.

    Senator Barack Obama has been endorsed by sixy foreign policy experts. He serves on the Foreign Policy Relations Committee. He showed judgment, integrity and vision by speaking out against the Iraq war when it was unpopular and has been right on Iran, and right on Pakistan. He has supported funding of the war only when necessary to support the safety and equipment for our troops. He laid out a withdrawal plan in September 2007 that was widely approved by other Democratic leaders.

    January 8, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. UK434

    Americans are so darn stupid! They vote for a dumb Texan with no military or foreign policy experience who makes a whole bunch of bad decisions like invade Iraq and then they go and give him 4 more years to mess up their country even worse. And now they want to give some freshmen senator from Illinois with no military or foreign policy experience at a time when the world is at its most hostile with Iran building nuclear weapons and North Korea refusing to dismantle and Pakistan in turmoil and China threatening Hong Kong, etc. You Americans are so BRILLIANT! Talk about gullible westerners who buy into anyone who talks a good game! LOL

    January 8, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. ALD

    I see people saying that it is okay that Obama does not have foreign policy experience. To back up their position, they say that Bush didn't have any either. Well, look at the mess Bush has made. Obama has no experience and he will be a disaster, just like Bush. The world is not simple and you cannot solve the problems of international terrorism by just meeting with the enemy like Obama suggests.

    January 8, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Patrick, Bethlehem,PA

    Arnold "The Terminator", a movie star right out of the movie studios in LA , has shown in California that his judgement is better than Gray Davis' long term political experience.

    January 8, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  7. nobama

    If Obama does have foreign policy experience, as his supporters claim, why did he not vote on the Iraq Senate decision in the fall, and why did he blurt out he'd "invade Iran?" Sounds real savvy to me ... NOT

    January 8, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. Winston Smith

    He's nuts. With very little experience and a savvy supporting cast (Dick, Satan, Rummy), George W achieved everything he aimed for: an endless war to keep our troops in the Middle East, a terror attack to solidy the fearful nation under its protective leader, record oil profits, rollbacks of the constitution, legalization of spying on American citizens, consolidation of wealth. He may be the most successful president in history.

    January 8, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. Deake

    In a world increasingly obsessed with television culture, the cult of personality blah blah blah, it would indeed be apt if Sen Barrack Obama wins the Dem ticket and goes on to fight it out with the Rep nominee. However, be warned. Whoever is elected President effectively takes on one of. if not THE, most important job in the 'Free' world (a conundrum, but that's another story). Don't vote for Barrack Obama just because you like him or because he speaks eloquently about change. To me he preaches Idealism and people for the sake of everyone's future, let's keep it real. With all his talk and for now it really is JUST talk, how much can he reasonably change things???? Let's KEEP IT REAL.

    Problem is this world is so screwed up right now, our deepest yearning seems to be for a Saviour to fix the mess. Hello? The ultimate American Idol. Yeah right. But no matter how the pundits and the media pitch it, while Barrack is smooth, stylish and will look good jumping out of helicopters onto the White House lawn, he isn't the second coming.

    Vote Hillary. She's smart, hard-headed and REAL.

    January 8, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. Ethan

    How much Foreign policy experience did Bush have at the start of his presidency? r

    January 8, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. Gbryant

    To: Ethan.

    Yes how much foreign policy, did Bush have? I didn't vote for him. Look what he has done. What a question.

    January 8, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. Gbryant

    Ohio is going to show Hillary that we are behind her.

    January 8, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  13. Senior VA Citizen

    And where was George Bush's foreign policy experience. He had never been off the Northern American Continent! And look where we are with all the "experience" he surrounded himself with...Cheney and Cronies.

    January 8, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  14. ChrisG

    Obama is a very nice, and well spoken Jr. Senator with no management experience.

    The reality is, in our competitive society, the most talented among us do not often pursue positions in government, they pursue fortune in the private sector. To get the best of what is available to us, I wish to see a seasoned executive manager from the private sector in the White House.

    This is why I support an independent presidential run by Michael Bloomberg.


    January 9, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  15. Kenny

    Same old fear mongering crap!!!!

    January 9, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. JJ, Cleveland, OH

    January 8, 2008 4:46 pm ET


    I don't hate republicans, I hate what I have becom because of the republicans


    First, have the discussion intelligently and submit a real name, not what you likely think is great achievement in humor. Second, people will take you seriously if you learn to spell (becom???). Third, and most importantly, the above statement is completely ignorant. What you have become is others' responsibility? GROW UP. It is polluted thinking such as that–thinking you share with so many other "victims–" that will keep the country from moving forward. The responsibility for what you "are" or what you "become" lies at no doorstep other than your own. Quit blaming everyone else. It's a big time waster, and no one buys it, anyway. Voinovich is correct in his assessment. Obama is arguably charismatic and certainly likable, but there's no "second act." Give me experience–REAL SUBSTANTIVE EXPERIENCE. Obama may be many things, but the one thing he is not is QUALIFIED.

    January 9, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. Rajan Jariwala

    You are absolutely right senator Voinovich, Obama is just talking about foreign policy experience. He claims, he got foreign policy experience from where? To get any kind of experience you need to have work hard or involvement, talk is always cheap and reality is different, I hope American people don't get trap word "change". Particularly young generation. Obama foreign policy will fall apart against powerful countries like Chaina, Iran Russia. Wisdom(experience) don't come overnight, you have to earn it.

    January 9, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. aaron, minneapolis mn

    This smells like a Bush cronie who knows a dirty plan is in the making to affect the outcome of the election. Perhaps another terrorist attack? Perhaps a direct attack with Iran? Voinovich's comment is scary.

    January 9, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. broadsword

    Ah, yes; I'm sure Voinovich was equally as critical of Gov. Bush when that loser, that zero, decided to run for office. Maybe the Republicans here should read up, before they end up looking even more stupid that they already do:

    On January 1, two days before the Iowa caucuses, Obama left a message for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to Robert Gibbs, Obama’s Communications Director, Rice called back “as we were driving from Sioux City to Council Bluffs on January 1. They talked about the situation and Rice asked Obama to tape a Voice of America message calling for calm.” Obama taped the message on January 2, after a rally in Davenport, Iowa. […]

    On January 3, the day of the caucuses, he had a conversation with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who had flown to Nairobi to see if he could begin negotiations with the factions. In the days since his Iowa victory, Obama has had near-daily conversations with the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya or with opposition leader Raila Odinga. As of late this afternoon, before his rally in Rochester, N.H., Obama was trying to reach Kenyan President Kibaki.

    January 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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