McCain campaign takes aim at Obama
The campaign of Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, responded to Senator Barack Obamaâs speech to AIPAC on a conference call today.
Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, said there was a disconnect in what Obama said about Iran on Wednesday compared to things he has said or done earlier in the campaign or in the Senate.
âI was troubled earlier in the year, during the campaign season when Sen. Obama referred to, I guess, compared Iran and other rogue and terrorist states to the Soviet Union and minimized the threat represented by Iran. I think thatâs wrong. Today Sen. Obama said that he thought Iran represented a grave threat. Thatâs the disconnect. And I think of course the statement he made today was right,â Lieberman said.
Randy Scheunemann, McCain campaignâs director of Foreign Policy and National Security, suggested that Obama was tailoring his message to a specific audience.
âSo I think itâs hard to escape the conclusion that last fall when the audience was MoveOn.org and other Democratic activists vs. today when it is AIPAC and pro-Israel activists, that Sen. Obama has different messages for different audiences,â Scheunemann said.
Lieberman referenced Obamaâs opposition vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment that designated Iranâs Revolutionary Guard unit as a terrorist group. Critics of the amendment say that it paves the way for a U.S. attack on Iran. Lieberman said that foreign policy will be a major topic during the presidential campaign.
âSen. Obama today argued that American foreign policy in recent years has essentially sort of strengthened Iran. At one point he almost seems to suggest that it helped to elect Ahmadinejad and has made Israel less safe and I just disagree with that. Iran elected Ahmadinejad for their own reasons. If Israel is in danger today, itâs not because of American foreign policy, which has been strongly supportive of Israel in every way. Itâs not because of what weâve done in Iraq. Itâs because Iran is fanatical, terroristic [sic], expansionist state,â Lieberman said.
Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, called Obamaâs speech to AIPAC âniceâ but said it did not dispel doubts about Obamaâs support for Israel âor the likelihood that he would have the strength of leadership or character to protect Israel as pillar in Americaâs national security policy." Cantor added, "At the end of the day, I think itâs easy to talk about supporting Israel as Barack Obama did today, but itâs hard to actually do it. John McCain has had 30 years of foreign relations experience. Heâs had extensive travel to the region. His support never wavered. â¦ John McCain doesnât need any on-the-job training; itâs just in his DNA.â
McCainâs foreign policy director Scheunemann, questioned Obamaâs claim that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has strengthened Iran.
âSen. Obama, in his speech had a rather odd alternate reality wherein he talks about somehow the presence of American troops has strengthened Iran. He refuses to deal with the consequences of what is now a phased withdrawal, what when he voted last year would have been an absolutely precipitous withdrawal when he voted to cut off funds and the consequences that that would have for Iranian power in the region,â Scheunemann said.
Scheunemann criticized Obamaâs suggestion that America was outsourcing diplomacy by having European allies negotiating with Iran.
âThat was a rather strange line for Sen. Obama to use. Frankly, to say weâre outsourcing diplomacy to our European allies disparages the very essence of allied cooperation. Sen. McCain has had discussions at the highest levels, including with President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Brown of Britain. â¦ Senator Obama seems more interested in disparaging our allies and engaging in cowboy summitry with unspecified leaders of Iran,â Scheunemann said.
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