Tags: Obama | Hits | Back | Charge | Inexperience

Obama Hits Back on Charge of Inexperience

Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:00 AM

ATLANTIC, Iowa -- Democratic Sen. Barack Obama defended his foreign policy credentials on Thursday, saying Sen. Hillary Clinton and other rivals were trying to pass off entrenched Washington ways as experience.

Obama, a first-term U.S. senator from Illinois, has been hit by accusations he is too inexperienced to be the Democratic nominee for the November 2008 election. A new CBS poll shows that while Obama is seen as the candidate offering fresh new ideas, Clinton has a 20-point advantage partly because respondents think she has the right experience to be president.

The New York senator has called Obama naive and irresponsible for saying he would talk with leaders of hostile nations, for favoring strikes against al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan and for ruling out nuclear weapons in such attacks.

Obama said Clinton and other candidates appeared experienced because they were just saying what is traditionally expected of a candidate.

"There is, not just with Senator Clinton, but with a lot of my opponents, a premium on reciting the conventional wisdom in Washington and that's what passes for experience -- how well you do that," Obama told reporters during a five-day tour of Iowa.

"My argument in this race is, it's that kind of rote approach to foreign policy that led a lot of people who should have known better to get into Iraq," he said. "It is an approach that we have to change in a much more far-reaching fashion."

The Clinton campaign rejected the attack.

"Hillary Clinton has fought for change her whole life and she is the candidate with the strength and experience to make change happen starting in 2009," said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.

CLIMATE OF FEAR

Obama said a new administration needs to put an end to "conventional thinking" that builds up a climate of fear.

"Part of the problem in our foreign policy is that the administration obfuscates, distracts and tries to play on the fears of the American people. The next president has to be able to talk very clearly to the American people," he said.

Obama cited his vow not to use nuclear weapons in any attacks on al Qaeda targets in Pakistan. Clinton has said nuclear deterrence is vital to help keep the peace.

But Obama said many military experts have told him nuclear weapons would never be used in a potential attack on a terrorist cell in Pakistan.

"Then I think it (is) ... fair to say we'd use conventional weapons and not nuclear weapons," Obama said to cheers of several hundred supporters in Council Bluffs. "There's nothing naive about saying that."

In Council Bluffs and Atlantic, Obama received standing ovations for his calls for change. Each time, he also noted that he is called inexperienced.

"When people say experience, what they're really saying is -- do you have good judgment?" he said. Former Defense Secretary "Donald Rumsfeld and (Vice President) Dick Cheney have a lot of experience, but they didn't have a lot of good judgment when it came to foreign policy. Part of what I offer is good judgment."

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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ATLANTIC, Iowa -- Democratic Sen. Barack Obama defended his foreign policy credentials on Thursday, saying Sen. Hillary Clinton and other rivals were trying to pass off entrenched Washington ways as experience. Obama, a first-term U.S. senator from Illinois, has been hit...
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2007-00-16
Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:00 AM
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