Senator Obama: Foreign relations “experience” based on 4 years spent overseas when he was a child

Hillary vs. Obama (Illustration by Stanford Kay for Newsweek)

The claws are out and the fists are starting to fly between candidates Obama an Clinton, this time over another rookie mistake the Senator for Illinois made in trying to cite his overseas “experiences” as a 10 year-old as helping him both “understand” the world and shape his opinions on foreign policy (emphasis added):

SHENANDOAH, Iowa — Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculed Democratic rival Barack Obama on Tuesday for his contention that living in a foreign country as a child helped give him a better understanding of the foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.

‘‘Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face,” Clinton said. ‘‘I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in.”

Clinton’s statement was prompted by a comment Obama made a day earlier when asked about his foreign policy credentials. He said his life experience gave him a better feel for international issues than most candidates gain from official trips to other nations.

He noted his father was from Kenya and that he himself spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. ‘‘Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact I spent four years overseas when I was a child in Southeast Asia,” he said Monday.

Here was Obama’s response to Hillary’s dig at his foreign policy “experience”:

“We just had a little exchange, Sen. Clinton and myself today” Obama told voters here. “I had mentioned that one of the reasons that I got it right when it came to Iraq was because I had lived overseas as a child. 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 make.

“And, of course, both the Republicans in their talking points as well as Sen. Clinton said we don’t think that what Sen. Obama did when he was 10 years old is relevant to our national security. I didn’t say that. She went on to make up the point, that some of the Republicans have made that she’s met with all these world leaders. I was wondering which world leader told her that we needed to invade Iraq because that is the conventional thinking that we’re going to have to break.”

For that matter, I wonder which one of his childhood friends he met while overseas told him that Saddam Hussein wasn’t a threat and that we shouldn’t invade Iraq?

Doesn’t this give you SO much confidence in his ability to wade through the shark-infested sea of foreign policy issues that the US has to deal with on a daily basis? Why, I wonder if my ten days spent in Europe back when I was 18 qualifies me as an expert of sorts on diplomatic relations with Europeans? Hmmm …

Seriously, Obama really does make it too easy for the more politically seasoned Hillary to take swipes at his attempts at sounding tough and experienced, just like she did over remarks he made back in August about invading Pakistan. But are Democratic voters, who have cosistently put Hillary at the top of the polls for the last several months, starting to turn against Hillary’s experience versus Obama’s inexperience? A few recent polls suggest that the tide may be indeed turning against Clinton.

A recent Reuters/Zogby poll shows that Hillary’s support has dropped 10 percent, but Obama only gained a couple of percentage points (which may change once Oprah starts campaigning for him – heh). That’s still a comfortable margin for La Clinton, but she’s obviously not taking any chances and is coming out swinging full force against Obama.

More worrying for the Clinton campaign has to be the latest WaPo/ABC News poll, which now shows Senator Obama surging slighty ahead of Senator Clinton:

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama has surged to a 4 point lead over Hillary Clinton, and an 8 point lead over John Edwards.

In a survey of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, Obama draws support from 30 percent, compared with 26 percent for Clinton and 22 percent for former senator John Edwards. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson received 11 percent, The Washington Post reports.

Hillary is clearly in trouble in Iowa.

A CNN/WMUR poll suggests Hillary is losing support in New Hampshire, too:

The senator from New York saw a 23-point lead over her closest rival in September decrease to 14 points in a new CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

When asked who they would support if the primary were held today, 36 percent of likely Democratic primary voters backed Clinton, 22 percent supported Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and 13 percent favored former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

In September, when CNN last polled in New Hampshire, Clinton was at 43 percent, with Obama at 20 percent and Edwards at 12 percent.

The survey, released Tuesday, showed a jump for Bill Richardson — 12 percent of those questioned supported the New Mexico governor for president, double his support from September.

It’s true that anything can happen in the next month or so before the primary season kicks into high gear, but I think these polls are significant considering how consistently Hillary has stayed ahead of the pack for most of this year versus the drop in support she’s seeing now. It may turn out that Obama’s rookie mistakes may actually help him rather than hurt him going into the primaries next year.

Either way, I’m sitting back and enjoying the back and forth sniping going on between the two, along with the little kitty cat hisses John Edwards throws in from time to time. With any luck, the three of them just may demolish each other.

Would someone pass the popcorn, please?


Memeorandum has a link round-up of blogger reax on the battle going on between Hillary and Obama.

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