Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Obama: My teen drug use not relevant to campaign"

Des Moines Register:
Waterloo, Ia. – Barack Obama said today that he doesn’t believe Americans see his teenage drug use as relevant to his candidacy as president.
“I can’t say how Americans think generally about it. I do think that the average American believes that what somebody does when they were a teenager 30 years ago is probably not relevant to how they are going to be performing as commander in chief and president of the United States,” Obama said during a press conference. “I think people have pretty good judgment about that.”

Obama has written about his use of drugs, including cocaine, during his teenage years. Earlier this week William Shaheen, a co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign, raised questions about the drug use, saying it could be used against Obama by Republican opponents if he were to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, apologized to Obama and has said she wasn’t aware of Shaheen’s actions before the statement he released. Shaheen resigned Thursday.

"I reject completely the kind of line-crossing that I've stood up against,” Clinton said Friday during the taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show.

Obama Saturday acknowledged the apology from Clinton but declined to characterize the tone of the discussion they had Thursday when their paths crossed in an airport.

“I said I appreciated the apology,” Obama said of the discussion with Clinton. “I suggested… that it was important for us, as the heads of our campaigns, to make sure that we’re sending a clear message that this is not the kind of tone that we should tolerate.”

Obama also responded to hits against his lack of experience. He was specifically asked about former President Bill Clinton’s statements Friday that his wife is better prepared, saying that even “a gifted television commentator” has just “one year less” experience than Obama, who began his presidential run a year into his first term in the U.S. Senate.

“Look, this is an argument that they’ve been making during the duration of this campaign,” Obama said. “Here is a quote: ‘The same old experience is irrelevant. You can have the right kind of experience or the wrong kind of experience. Mine is rooted in the real lives of real people and it will bring real results if we have the courage to change.’ That was Bill Clinton in 1992,” Obama said, noting that he has been involved in government for more than a decade.

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