UNDERWOOD, Iowa -- Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday sharply questioned the foreign policy judgment of Hillary Clinton, pointing to his rival's 2002 support of the Iraq War, which Sanders called “the most crucial foreign policy issue of our time.”
The Vermont senator was asked about his foreign policy experience during a town hall meeting here and then later elaborated on the subject when speaking with reporters.
“It is fair to say, that in terms of experience, Hillary Clinton was secretary of state for four years, so that gives her a lot of experience, no debate about that,” Sanders said. “But there is a difference between experience and judgment. The most important foreign policy vote in the modern history of this country took place in 2002.”
In 2002, Clinton was a member of the Senate representing New York while Sanders was in the House of Representatives. Clinton has since called her vote to authorize force in Iraq a mistake.
Sanders has pointed to that difference before, and he chose to call attention to it again on a day on which a group of foreign policy experts supporting Clinton’s campaign said he appears confused or misinformed about Iran and current Mideast flash points.
The 10 former officials cited Sanders’s call during Sunday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate for normalizing relations with Iran, now that the nuclear accord is in place and some U.S. citizens have been released from Iranian detention. They also pointed to an earlier Sanders statement suggesting that Iran should send more troops to Syria and join in a military coalition with Saudi Arabia.
Sanders offered a defense of his views to reporters, saying he would do all that he could to destroy the Islamic State terrorist group and stressing the importance, in his view, of doing that by maintaining a strong coalition of major powers and the United States' Muslim allies. He then returned to the subject of the Iraq War.
“I think on the crucial foreign policy issue of our time, it turns out that Secretary Clinton, with all of her experience, was wrong and I was right,” Sanders said. “Experience is important. [Former vice president] Dick Cheney had a lot of experience. A whole lot of people have experience but do not necessarily have the right judgment. I think I have the right judgment to conduct sensible foreign policy.”
Staff writer Anne Gearan contributed to this report.