Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Obama talks foreign policy - again - in Des Moines"

The Swamp (Chicago Tribune's political blog):
At an event almost identical to one in New Hampshire in late November, Sen. Barack Obama surrounded himself with foreign affairs experts – including two from the Clinton administration – as he concluded a six-day bus tour across Iowa.
"I am running to do more than end a war in Iraq," Obama said. "I'm even more interested in ending the mindset that got us into war."

As he has said in the past, Obama said he remains committed to talking to all nations, even if they are unfriendly.

"We need a president who is will to talk to all nations, friend and foe," he said. "We have to stop giving countries the excuse that America won't come to the table."

Obama also maintained that he would be a more formidable general election opponent because he opposed the unpopular Iraq war from the start.

"This isn't simply about drawing contrasts. It's about a change in our foreign policy you can believe," he said. "When you consider who to caucus for, I ask you to consider my judgment and vision."

In responding to a voter's question about the Peace Corps, Obama said foreign policy matters should not just be an "ivory tower exercise" and must engage and involve the American people in decision-making and execution.

Before the Illinois Democrat spoke, his panel of advisers, who met privately with some Iowans prior to the event, spoke about his qualities and answered questions.

"We need a president who can bring other nations together in a common goal," said Scott Gration, a former major general in the U.S. Air Force. "Barack Obama is someone who can do that."

The event only seated about 200 people, but it attracted more than a dozen television cameras and dozens of journalists, who have set up camp in Des Moines in advance of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

The two-hour program also included Anthony Lake, Bill Clinton's first national security adviser, as well as Susan Rice, another Clinton alum who is a past Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Obama was asked about his extensive use of former Clinton administration officials on his foreign policy team in an Iowa debate last week and whether it would prevent him from the kind of change he has promised voters.

That question triggered a colorful exchange, after Sen. Hillary Clinton launched a loud and sustained laugh when the question was asked.

The New Yorker paused her laughing long enough to tell Obama, "I want to hear that." Obama stopped his own laughing for a zinger. "Well, Hillary," he said, "I'm looking forward to you advising me, as well."



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