March 11th, 2008
10:11 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama camp hammers Clinton's foreign policy experience

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Obama's campaign launched a fresh attack on Clinton's experience claim Tuesday."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama's presidential campaign took some of its most pointed jabs to date at Hillary Clinton's claim of experience, circulating a memo to reporters Tuesday morning from former Clinton State Department official Greg Craig that suggests the New York senator uses "false charges and exaggerated claims to play politics with national security."

"When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim," Craig, an Obama supporter, says in the memo. "Hillary Clinton's argument that she has passed 'the Commander- in-Chief test' is simply not supported by her record."

Craig served as director of policy planning at the State Department during former President Bill Clinton's second term.

The sharply worded memo follows similarly charged words from many Obama surrogates in recent days as the Illinois senator's presidential campaign appears to be seeking to alter the perception - shown in Ohio and Texas exit polls - that Clinton is more ready to be Commander-in-Chief.

The memo also references Clinton's now-famous 3 a.m. ad - increasingly viewed as keys to her wins in Texas and Ohio - and says the commercial and her claim to foreign policy credentials "consists of nothing more than making the assertion, repeating it frequently to the voters and hoping that they will believe it."

The memo was released ahead of an Obama campaign conference call with Iraq war veteran and Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy, as well as other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Reacting to the memo and campaign conference call, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, "It’s tough to see how Senator Obama can tout his commitment to the military when he couldn’t be bothered to hold a single policy hearing on Afghanistan. Considering that Senator Obama’s record is just words, it’s no wonder that voters are having doubts about his readiness to be commander-in-chief."

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- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. Chris

    awww. and what have you done in Afganistan NObama??...NOTHING!

    March 11, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Mr. Obama

    "Son, don't forget all you learned while living in Indonesia."

    March 11, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |


    March 11, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Douglas, Columbus, Ga.

    Another side note...Bill puffs ( not inhales ) CUBANS...another peice of foreign experience...Ha !

    March 11, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Chris

    Illinois post:

    Hillary could be compared to Eleanor Roosevelt, who deliberately inserted herself into politics to fight for what's right….even though it made her some enemies just as it has made Hillary some enemies.

    Finally someone out there gets it!!! Obama lacks experience and that is why the super delegates question his ability to be president!!!

    March 11, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Ekow

    Clinton says she traveled to 80 countries and that qualifies her to be commander-in-chief. My question is, what exactly did she travel to those countries to do? I know she visited Ghana in 1998 with the husband and they spent only 5 hours. Will she count that also as a foreign policy experience? I have visited almost 20 European countries and some other ones, I guess, I qualify too to become the commander-in-chief.

    March 11, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Marty

    He's right, if she's claiming to have all these foreign policy experience and mislead the American people to believing her nonsence, someone has to prove her wrong and prove that she's not what she claims to be and this is not just on foreign policy but on everything.

    Yes we can!
    Obama '08

    March 11, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Tre

    Some of you on here are missing the mark regarding this discussion. A few of you keep say "what is his foreign policy experience" which is deflecting from the real issue.....your candidate lack of experience. Obama has not been touting "experience" on the campaign trail whereas Hillary has. Obama's message is "change" which everyone can see by the movement he has created. It is visible and people are witnessing it. They feel that they are apart of something great. On the other hand, Hillary's "experience" is not visible to the American people and she keep saying she has it. Her alleged strength has now become a strong weakness. Hillary supporters need to stop deflecting the issue.

    March 11, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Patricia Evans

    Once again, can we all do the fact check????????

    1) How can we vote for a candidate-OBAMA when he voted 100 times present when in the Illinois Senate and not even a YES/NO? Where is the good judgment Obama and his campaign keeps stressing? Taking responsibility for your actions whether right or wrong, specifies good judgment at a particular time-when you have to make that decision for the good of your constituency!

    2) CHANGE–where and how???? You are still surrounded by the same Washington rejects from yester years and you are listening to every outdated judgments they make.

    3) RESPONSES AND REBUTTALS–he is childish in his responses to the Clinton's claims and charges, almost sounding like their is a HALO above his head. We are still waiting for a clear, concise response to questions about his " belief, heritage and patriotism"??????

    We the "courted Independents" are waiting impatiently now!!!!!!

    March 11, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. truthurts

    the Nobel peace prize guy from the N.Ireland called her a cheerleader in the peace talks...we have foreign leaders laughing at us for considering a Presidents wife who is running on his experience!

    March 11, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Nick

    Never mind some stupid memo that some ex-staffer of the Clinton´s has written. I think Hillary made perfect sense when she defended her record on experience, when she was questioned about it by several news channels. As a European (Ireland), I´m shocked over how many "Ken Starr wannabies" there are out there. It baffles me that these people dont appriciate more all the great things that Ex President Bill Clinton did for your country. And that they havn´t realized that Hillary by far is your best option to be the next President. It´s been put beyond all doubth that Obama will say whatever is suitable at any specific moment, regardless of, if he meens it or not. That has been proven by his top staff members on security/foreign affairs and trade/economics when they "spilled the beans" in Scotland/England
    and to that Canadian trade delegation. So folks: get your act together and switch your senses back on.............Hillary for president !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By the way: How can Obama get so much credit for that speech against the war he held back in ´02. Hillary was also against the war. But she was in a position where she had to participate in a string of votes concerning steps the US should or should not take, without knowing what we N O W know to be fact. It´s always easy after the fact, when you´ve got all the answers. What if British and US intelligence had been rigth and Sadam had the WMD´s at his disposal. Any member who then had voted against giving the president THE AUTHORITY TO USE THE THREAT OF FORCE had probably been considered an idiot. If Obama had been a member of the US senate at that time he migth well have voted "present", as he did on other issues, numerous occasions during his time as senator in Illinois. But I got to hand it to him: He IS a great talker.

    March 11, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Carol

    Today is March 11, 2008, it is my son's birthday he is 31 years old today and I still have him to celebrate his birthday with his mother, father, sister, his grandparents and friends. 6 years and 6 months to the day of September 11, 2001, there were many here in the northeast and in other surrounding states where lives where lost and tragically taken from them. There are no birthdays to celebrate, no holidays, there are no hellos, no I love you's, no hugs, nor kisses.

    Every 11th day of the month is a reminder of that awful day for those who lost a mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, niece, nephew, cousin, grandparent or a friend through that horrific act. After the shock of 911, Americans never backed down for what is right and never had to question what our American values were. When we pledge allegiance to our country and our flag, it is a commitment that we all partake to be united and free.

    Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, understood the devastation that overtook her state and its people. Who would you trust on day 1, and at that 3:00 a.m. call? We need Hillary, a fighter for what is right for families, for the economy and to restore our standing in the world. Obama’s Audacity of Hope is for the hopeless that is maybe? Do we really need maybe? I don’t think so. For Hillary it is will and determination for us. Yes she will!

    March 11, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Harvard Alumni for Obama

    So why is Phil Singer referring to policy hearing that weren't held? Uhhh... what does that have to do with the issue being addressed? That being Clinton's alleged "experience"! Clearly he just didn't have a response to the memo so he is attempting to divert attention back to Obama. Yes, nice try!

    The difference? Obama has never claimed to have done something that he hasn't, whereas Sen Clinton keeps touting her "experience" but everyone who was involved at the time keeps saying that she's exaggerating. So end all of this and release the papers! Exactly! She hasn't and is holding off as long as she possibly can. Open your eyes Hillary supporters, open your eyes! Because when you finally do, you'll see that it's politics as usual over at the Clinton camp!

    ... indeed

    Obama '08

    March 11, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. truthurts

    Sorry to say but she is a woman scorned and she needs to run something. Their marriage depends on it!

    March 11, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. June

    Craig came from President Clinton's camp so this means a lot. The truth is, you can say you think Obama is inexperienced, but he has more experience than former Presidents Clinton and Reagan. Hillary Clinton has lied about her foreign policy experience; she was a splendid world traveler, but that's it. She was not "the face of foreign politics" nor did she make any decisions. HRC = puffery.

    March 11, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Kevin,FL

    "When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim," -Well if Obama campaign is based upon change, it important that he give specifics to support that claim, which he does not.. Hillary Clinton gives specifics on her experience

    March 11, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Shannon Shiflett

    america is in chaos because of clinton and bush.

    don't put another one in the white house unless you hate america.

    March 11, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Hillarylies

    The truth requires no support but, a LIE always has to be supported with more lies. Tell this to hillary

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Jesus

    I agree with comparing Hillary to Eleanor Roosevelt. I think she has definitely been a more involved First Lady than Laura Bush or others. Obama lacks experience too so it's the pot calling the kettle black, you cannot criticize her for what you yourself lack Obama. Then the lens goes back on you and you have no foreign policy experience except growing up as a kid in a foreign country...that's child life experiences not real experience.

    I think as more time goes by and they keep attacking each other it creates more material for McCain to use against either one that emerges from this primary. Way to go media helping to destroy Democrat chances in November...but then so are WE Democrats by not being above this silly ranting. I like BOTH of them and would vote for Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton. Figure it out guys and JOIN UP or you WILL lose in November to McBush.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. king form toronto

    no one can beat obama in november.that's a fact,with hillary out of the's gonna be a land slide.and that's a fact.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |

    Hillary-Persistence&Smarts 08, Where is the proof that Clinton can deal with National Security issues? Where? Because she is the wife of a former president? she is kidding just a bunch of people who lack judgement!

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Jeanine

    First, I would like to say that I'm sick and tired of the Clinton's. I used to like Bill, but after his "fairy tail" statement and the look he had on his face, I no longer like him. As for Hilary – PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!

    Hilary cannot lay any claim to any more experience than Obama. I keep hearing this thirty-five years of experience. I ask her lay out in detail exactly what she did along with exact dates and times and most of all who benefitted from her service?

    Second, I totally dislike her arrogance like she is so privaledge that the white house is owned by her Bill and Chelsea. Who does she think she is?

    Third, I know you don't need black people now and it is quiet clear on your's and Bill's face. I'm tired of how you are belittling Obama and I feel you and Bill are a second from using an inappropriate word in public because you know that there will be a significant consequence and I also believe you had to tell him to "SHUT THE H UP!!!!!!".

    Fourth, know this "HILARY" if Obama does not receive the nomination you along with a great deal of my friends, and (we are spreading the word) – KNOW – YOU WILL NOT GET OUR VOTE.

    Simply because you are a woman, not all of us feel a woman is suited for the position. As women we have watched your many faces and how they have changed constantly. We have listened how you have not told the truth (lied repeatedly).

    Obama has no experience and you have all, but you want him to be your vice-president and he's ahead of you in every aspect. Hilary is simply trying to mess with his mind as people of their kind like to do.

    Overall, I think Obama is handling her the right way and that is to ignore her and hopefully the world will see her for who she really is. I don't think Obama needs to go after her every ploy or word, because that's what she and her camp wants him to do.

    OBAMA, stick to the issues and do not allow Hilary or Bill get you off guard. GOD is as well as the american people are on your side, and I want you to know that me and every member of my family as well as my friends have our vote.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. MPG

    As long as Obama stays on the issues he's okay. Pointing out differences without making them personal attacks is not "negative". Senator Clinton has been no less than hypocritical, and, despite her intelligence and "experience" it's turning people off. It has nothing to do with being a woman, it has everything to do with being "Hillary".

    Senator Clinton is the one who put it out there about experience, the one who put it out there about "solutions" Obama is calling her on it and its ticking the HRC supporters off. She can prove her experience by releasing the Whitehouse documents, prove her integrity by releasing her tax returns (you remember how she hammered Rick Lazio for the SAME thing during her 2000 campaign for US Senator) and returning the whitehouse furniture and reject and denounce anyone in her campaign or any supporter who would insult or make any personal negative comments towards her opponent.

    Time to put up or shut up........people are weary of the 3 faces of Eve.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Leroy

    Obamas experience is preaching & good talker with no action.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Hillary Connection

    Obama never said he had Foreign Policy experience. George Bush says he had no Foreing policy expereince. Bill Clinton said he had no foreing policy experience.

    But Hillary Clinton says she has foreing policy experience. What a joke. Hillary and her team cannot even come up with one major issue of her Foreign policy expereince.

    Wake up... and stop her from Spinning the issue back to Barack. he has not experience...but he never said he did. Hillary said she had the expereinice. So tell us Hillary Supporters. Tell us your candidates Foreign Policy experience.

    March 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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