Clinton Mocks, Draws Rebukes

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

THE EXPERIENCE DEBATE

Clinton Mocks, Draws Rebukes

The war over experience took a trip abroad yesterday.

At a campaign event in Iowa, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton mocked Sen. Barack Obama's statement Monday that living overseas as a child had given him valuable insights about foreign policy. Clinton's comments drew a rebuke not only from Obama, but also from former senator John Edwards's campaign.

In remarks after an event yesterday in Shenandoah, Iowa, circulated by her campaign as "New HRC Comments on Experience," Clinton was quoted as saying, "I have traveled the world on behalf of our country -- first in the White House with my husband and now as a senator. I've met with countless world leaders and know many of them personally. I went to Beijing in 1995 and stood up to the Chinese government on human rights and women's rights. I have fought for our men and women in uniform to make sure they have the equipment they need in battle and are treated with dignity when they return home."

Later came this zinger, directed at Obama: "Now voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face. I think we need a president with more experience than that." Clinton's initial remarks were in response to comments Obama made in Clarion, Iowa, on Monday, when he cited his experience living in a foreign country as one of the factors that informs his world view.

"I spent four years living overseas when I was a child living in Southeast Asia," said Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent four years in Indonesia.

"A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school. It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live."

After learning of Clinton's comments, Obama responded during a town-hall-style meeting in a gym in Conway, N.H.

"I mentioned that one of the reasons that I got it right when it came to Iraq was because I lived overseas when I was a child," he said, according to an account by the Associated Press. "It gives me some judgment and perspective around what other people think about America and how they might react or respond when we make some of the decisions that we do."

"Of course, both the Republicans, in their talking points, as well as Senator Clinton said, 'Well, I don't think that what Senator Obama did when he was 10 years old is relevant to our national security.' I didn't say that."

The Edwards campaign rose in Obama's defense. Spokesman Chris Kofinis said, "Now we know what Senator Clinton meant when she talked about 'throwing mud' in the last debate. Like so many other things, when it comes to mud, Hillary Clinton says one thing and throws another."


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