Sen. Barack Obama said today that, regardless of whom the Democratic Party nominates for president, the Republicans will launch a negative attack campaign because, he said, their party has little positive on which to run.
"My suspicion is that the Republican National Committee is going to be targeting any Democratic nominee," the Senator from Illinois told CBS's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. "I'm sure that there will be a lot of negative ads out there. They don't have much to run on, given what's happened over the last seven to eight years. So there's no doubt that there will be negativity."
Negativity has become an issue within the Democratic primaries, as frontrunners Obama and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., have jostled for position in the key early states.
In Iowa, Obama told reporters that he is the most "electable" of Democrats, arguing that Republicans would not automatically rally against him in the way that they have rallied against Hillary Clinton and her husband, and consequently he would accomplish more in a bipartisan way.
"The difference, I think, is I attract more Republicans and independents," he said.
"One of the things I'm seeing is that it's not just Democrats, but it's Republicans and independents who have also lost trust in how our government has functioned. They're concerned about profligate spending on things that aren't our priorities. They're concerned about the fact that we have a foreign policy that has diminished our standing around the world. They're concerned about inefficiencies: Katrina didn't just upset Democrats, it upset Republicans as well.
"And so we've got a chance, potentially, to bring in people who have seen the philosophy of George Bush and Dick Cheney not serve the country well and are, I think, willing to consider new approaches."
In fact, his criticism of Clinton was somewhat back-handed, seemingly aimed at Republicans who have targeted both Clintons in the past.
"I actually think that Senator Clinton is a capable, solid senator from New York," he said. "But because of the history of some of the battles that have taken place back in the '90s, it is true that she tends to galvanize the other side."
He also sidestepped commenting on remarks by President Bill Clinton, who earlier this week said that voters would hold Obama's lack of foreign policy experience against him.
“Well, look, I don't begrudge Bill Clinton helping his wife - my wife is helping me," Obama said. "And I understand that he's loyal to her and wants to make sure that she can put the best face forward on the campaign… [but] much of the criticism he's leveling at me is identical to the criticism that was leveled against him when he was running against George H.W. Bush.”
Obama said, despite Bill Clinton’s star power, voters in Iowa will not automatically gravitate toward Hillary Clinton. "They respect her very much, but what people here in Iowa consistently tell me is they're looking for something different. They're looking for something new. They want to turn the page."
"People want to see the next president bring people together, push back the influence of special interests and lobbyists, talk straight with the American people, and get things done. And how we've been running our campaign, I think, is the same way we want to govern.
"I may have disagreements with Republicans, but I don't want to polarize and demonize those folks. I want to see if we can bring them in, into a working majority, to actually deliver on health care and education and the new energy policy, and foreign policy that can repair some of the damage that's been done.
"So the message was really one of what I can bring to the table, as opposed to what others can't."
He also spoke skeptically of the President's Iraq policy, despite White House claims that the "surge" in U.S. troop levels have succeeded.
"George Bush's own premise was that as a consequence of the surge, we would give breathing room to the Iraqis to start negotiating and to stabilize the political situation there," Obama said. "I was skeptical of [that], and continue to be.
"I am glad that the violence has gone down. But keep in mind, Bob, that we have essentially gone full circle. We had intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government back in 2006; we saw a huge spike in violence, to horrific levels. The surge comes in and now we're back to where we were in 2006, with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional Iraqi government.
"If we want to stabilize the situation in Iraq over the long term, then we have to trigger different behavior among the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions and get them to come to an agreement on how they're going to govern. And that has not happened.
"The only way, I believe, to trigger that different attitude is going to be if we announce a phased, careful, responsible redeployment. And that's what I've proposed consistently."