McCain Says Obama Is Confused About America's Global Standing

Those attending the American Legion convention in Phoenix gave Sen. John McCain a warm welcome. He used the event partly to take several shots at his opponent.
Those attending the American Legion convention in Phoenix gave Sen. John McCain a warm welcome. He used the event partly to take several shots at his opponent. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PHOENIX, Aug. 26 -- Sen. John McCain on Tuesday accused Sen. Barack Obama of not believing in America's role as a world leader and of being confused about the nation's moral standing, the latest attack on the Democrat's foreign policy credentials.

McCain said Obama has not challenged criticism from other countries about America's greatness, and he ridiculed the Democrat's call for "a world that stands as one" in his Berlin speech last month.

"The Cold War ended not because the world stood 'as one,' but because the great democracies came together, bound together by sustained and decisive American leadership," McCain said to members of the American Legion at their 90th annual national convention here.

An Obama spokesman said it was ridiculous to think the Illinois Democrat does not believe in American world leadership and accused McCain of breaking his vow to run a respectable campaign.

"The 'confusion' here is between John McCain rhetoric that no one's love of country should be questioned and the reality of his campaign's daily, false, personal and detestable attacks on Senator Obama," spokesman Hari Sevugan said. "But it's not a surprising tactic from John McCain, who is offering four more years of Karl Rove's playbook to distract from his plan for four more years of George Bush's failed policies, which have left America far less secure and shredded our alliances in the world."

McCain and his campaign have repeatedly sought to question Obama's foreign policy judgment and experience, even as the candidate insists that he is not challenging his opponent's patriotism. Last month, McCain accused Obama of putting his desire to win in November ahead of the lives of soldiers. "It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," he said.

Tuesday's speech was an equally tough, if broader, portrayal of Obama's worldview.

In his address to the veterans, McCain said that Obama was "the picture of confidence" in Berlin, but that "confidence itself and confidence in one's country are not the same." His prepared remarks listed the sentence as beginning with "confidence in oneself."

McCain said oppressed nations look to the United States for leadership and hope. "When they talk about our country, it is not with distrust or disdain, but with respect and affection. They do not resent or resist America's democratic influence in the world -- they thank God for it."

McCain also sharply criticized Obama for mentioning the U.S. invasion of Iraq while discussing the Russian incursion into Georgia. McCain quoted Obama's early response to the Russian action, noting that the Democrat said "they can't charge into other countries," but added: "Of course, it helps if we are leading by example on that point."

"If I catch Senator Obama's drift, then, our failure to 'lead by example' was the liberation of Iraq," McCain said. "And if he really thinks that by liberating Iraq from a dangerous tyrant America somehow set a bad example that invited Russia to invade a small, peaceful, and democratic nation, then he should state it outright -- because that is a debate I welcome."

Obama aides rejected the thesis of McCain's speech and pointed to the Berlin address as evidence that the Republican was twisting Obama's words into something they never were meant to be.

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