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. Marc A. Turnes (DeKalb, IL)

    If we operate under Clinton's argument of foreign policy experience... Laura Bush is equally qualified. How's that for a terrifying thought?

    Ms. Clinton, you'll have to excuse me if trying to motivate women's groups in Ireland, "opening borders" a day after they are opened in Kosovo, and condemning human rights violations in China (with no real effect, obviously) .... don't exaclty send a strong message of "foreign policy experience" to me.

    March 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Joe (WI)

    It's not negative if it's true!!

    Obama '08 Yes We Can!

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Harvey

    you hammer her experience when Obama is nr 99 in junior senators..Obama says expeerience doesnot matter so why mention her experience....go to dc and vote present or push the wrong button when voting thats Obama's experience

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. California Voter

    So what is his foreign policy experience?

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. elvispresley

    »»ENOUGH of Clintons in the White House!!...Hillary "Annoying" Clinton is NOT good enough to be President. NO MORE Clintons in the White House!...ENOUGH!!...VOTE for Obama,vote for John McCain or even for Indiana Jones!...ANYONE BUT Hillary Clinton.

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. maya

    Um, when you are clearly the less experienced candidate, it is not a good idea to base your attack on saying that your opponent lacks experience!!! Neither is as strong with foreign policy experience vs. McCain. But Hillary clearly has more than Obama- and Obama looks silly trying to "attack" (powderpuff punch) on this issue! He has clearly been listening to the talk show pundits...

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Jared

    okay so when you were inevitible you "respected her experience and didn't want to tarnish it" but now that she's won a few contests you're going to disgrace her good name! YOU MY FRIEND ARE POLITICS AS USUAL if you're going to criticize other people's campaigns take a look in the mirror and get lost!

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Randy - Denver

    Well as all good liars know if you repeat a lie often enough and you get others to repeat it for you it becomes accepted as a truth because "everyone" knows it is true. Good job Mr. Obama for calling her on this oft told tale, wish you had started calling her out on it earlier but I know YOU tried to make the campaign about issues and not candidates after the results of Ohio, where the voters showed it wasn't about issues but perceptions, I guess you have to start fighting the perceptions...

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. John

    Obama thinks that visiting other countries on vacation, qualifies him to have foreign policy experience? Hillary has already helped more people all over the world,than he could do in two lifetimes.

    March 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Phil Love

    Hillery should dry her eyes. The white House is no place for cry babies. Get real and get our of the race she has been out maneuvered by one much smarter than she is.

    March 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. RightyTighty

    SNL forgot the last screen of their Obama/Hillary 3 am call. That being the scary looking Hillary calling a sleeping McCain for his advice to give to the falling apart "President Obama".

    Ha Ha!!

    March 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. diane

    ok , enough is enough..I have nothing against Barack Obama but he is in his first term as a senator and quite frankly has missed most of it because of campaigning. Hillary did vote for the war based on the INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE IDIOT IN THE WHITE HOUSE WHO BELIEVED HALF TRUTHS WERE OK. OBAMA WAS NOT A SENATOR AT THE TIME!

    March 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Obama for prez

    Right,.,, Obama stay on message

    March 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Democrats

    OBAMA is the FrontRunner! Time to shift support to Obama and get ready for the general election. It's now time to bow out with dignity Hillary.

    OBAMA '08

    March 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. sky

    ...and would Hillary be this far in the campaign if she were not a woman? Does it go both ways. Frankly, when I first realized Obama was the candidate I wanted to support his color was oblivious to me. It just didnt occur to me. I was so taken with his message. It has been, from the beginning, the Clintons who have interjected it into the race.

    How many people are supporting Hillary just because it is our best shot for a few years to have a woman in the white matter who the woman is?

    March 11, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. bobw

    "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."

    News Flash-sub-committes do not hold policy meetings on regions outside of their charter. Obama chairs the sub-committee for Central European Affairs. Does Hillary's minion know where Afghanistan is?

    News Flash- The full committe has held numerous hearings regarding Afghanistan.

    News Flash-Compare Obama's legislative record on National Security, and veteran's issues against Hillary's.

    News Flash-Obama leads in the popular vote! The majority of voters in the primaries don't seem to have any doubts about Obama.

    March 11, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. l.p.

    On the Geraldine Ferraro comments..

    is absolutly right, and many poeple agree with her, but not all of them speak up about it..

    right time, right place that 's what really happening to Mr. Obama, and nobady since to paid attention a the big picture...

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  18. David

    Obama needs to continue to press Hillary. she will continue to show her true colors and will turn many off. her latest joke is this whole "dream ticket" she and Bill are yapping about. and she comments that obama isn't ready to be president but could be VP?? was she born yesterday? the VP has to be presidential material, too, as they are a heartbeat away from the presidency. typical moronic Clinton spin. go away Illuminati fools. no more Bush/Clinton rule/regime. 20 years is way too much.

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Chris

    The time has come for Obama to withdraw from the election. He is not qualified to serve as President or Vice President. He is largely a community activist and a fade, like the hula hoop.

    Hillary Clinton has an incredible resume, the intellect and knowledge to lead the USA and make the world a better place. Her foreign policy experiences are much greater then the other candidate.

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. georgia

    Clinton's "commander in chief credentials" are no less evidenced than Obama's "bring everyone together" credentials. He claims to be the one best suited for working with people from all points on the political continuum, but an objective look at their political and legislative histories shows that Clinton is as willing and able to work with people of other political persuasions as he is,

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Illinois

    Yes, it's only fair to have the candidates compare their foreign policy experience. I agree that both candidates come out publicly with what they consider to be foreign policy experience and what they've acomplished. I do think that Obama will come out way behind Clinton on this one as he has nothing to fall back on.

    I agree that Clinton has never had a "red phone" moment such as needing to decide whether to invade a country or decide to give anmesty to a foreign political figure who is being persecuted by his/her government or something of that nature, but no one except the President has had that red phone moment. On the other hand, it also doesn't mean that the experience she has had when she was in the White House doesn't count. Like it or not, she has had experience dealing with foreign affairs/policy when she was in the White House.

    It's hardly fair to compare her to Laura Bush or Ladybird Johnson when those women went out of their way to avoid dealing with political issues that mattered so as not to offend anyone. 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.

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Tommy in St. Louis

    It's about time.

    Gotta love this "no experience" garbage that Hillary and her supporters are trying to throw at Obama. Bill Clinton was just about the same age when he was elected in 1992, and what was his big experience – serving as governor of Arkansas? Not even a big state, but a small state? But they considered his lack of experience a good thing back then, because Bush 41 was "out of touch" and we needed "change" in Washington. So why all of a sudden does this artificial "experience" standard exist for Obama? It's a double standard, unless they want to admit that their own Bill Clinton was unprepared to be president in 1992, and want to discuss his long list of screwups. That is their argument's logical conclusion.

    But if you do want to hold Obama up to this fake "experience" standard, well, then, he's held elected office longer than Hillary has. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    March 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. ndt2

    how about at the very least running through some actual points of the memo? cnn seems to do a good job of typing up clinton's talking points verbatim without checking facts and here the work's even done for them AND it's based on actual history.

    March 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Joey

    I agree. Stick to your own message: Hillary needs Obama to go negative and sink to her level... she won't be able to garner a nomination without a majority. She is making the weak argument that because she won big states during the primary season, Obama can't win those states in the general election: huge logic gap. please drop out now, Clinton.

    March 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Shavon

    Well said Mr.Singer!!! Obama is so focused on becoming President he has forgotten about his current job!! Voting present is the lame duck approach. "I won't take a stand so I can go with how the public feels about it later" that is what Obama's whole political record has been about...Yeah I know he was against the war from the begining but it's easy to take that stance when you couldn't vote on it anyway!! But if you look at his record since being a Senator his voting record on Iraq is alot like Hillary's. He has not served a full term as Senator yet, you can't put your eye on the big prize until you have paid your dues and Obama you just don't have the experience yet.

    March 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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