One upmanship on advisors

Barack Obama suggested Friday that he has more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration backing his candidacy over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, but lists provided by both campaigns show hers is nearly twice as long.

Clinton’s campaign provided more than 80 names of her husband’s former foreign policy advisers who are publicly backing her, while Obama’s campaign provided 47.

Asked how Obama backs up the claim of greater support, campaign spokesman Bill Burton said the senator was referring to an article that ran in The New York Times Magazine last month, which quoted an anonymous foreign policy expert saying most of the community was backing Obama.

Obama’s comment, at a campaign stop with just 13 days until Iowa’s presidential caucus, came in response to a questioner who asked him to compare his foreign policy vision with the former first lady’s.

“In fact, you could argue that there are more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration supporting me than Senator Clinton,” Obama said. He added that “should raise some pretty interesting questions.”

Responded Clinton spokesman Phil Singer, “Senator Obama is attacking Senator Clinton by making demonstrably false claims about his foreign policy credentials that, in the process, raise more questions about his own lack of experience.”

On Thursday, Clinton warned an Iowa audience not to support someone who isn’t “up to speed on foreign affairs and military matters.”

“That’s the kind of logic that got us George Bush in the first place,” she said. Advisers said the line was part of her closing argument against Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, with the three in a tight race in Iowa.

Obama began his response by saying he’s been on the Foreign Relations Committee while serving in the Senate the past three years, “so even by the standards of Washington I have dealt more with foreign policy than, let’s say, Bill Clinton had when he became president, or Ronald Reagan, who was a governor at the time. And these same arguments were made about them.”

He said that unlike Hillary Clinton, he opposed the Iraq war from the start; he opposed an amendment to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization; and he thinks presidents should be willing to negotiate with leaders of rogue nations. He said his record “stands up very well against the people who say they’ve got all this experience in Washington.”

“Why is the national security adviser of Bill Clinton, the secretary of the Navy of Bill Clinton, the assistant secretary of state for Bill Clinton, why are all these people endorsing me?” he said. “And it’s not just because I give a good speech. They apparently believe that my vision of foreign policy is better suited for the 21st century and is not caught up in the politics of fear that we’ve been seeing out of George Bush for the last seven years.”

Burton provided a list of 47 nonmilitary advisers who served in the Clinton administration and have endorsed Obama — part of a broader list of 73 foreign policy experts the campaign announced Wednesday. Burton said more than 150 foreign policy experts are advising the campaign, but some don’t want to announce it publicly.

Burton compared that with a list of 32 former U.S. ambassadors and diplomats who served in the Clinton administration and signed a letter two weeks ago attesting to Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy credentials.

Singer said that list was not a full accounting and provided the list of more than 80 names.


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