Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculed Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama for his contention that living in a foreign country as a child helped give him a better understanding of the foreign policy challenges facing the United States.
"Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face," Clinton said Tuesday. "I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in."
Obama's retort: "I was wondering which world leader told her that we needed to invade Iraq."
‘Getting kind of heated’
Clinton's conclusion: "This campaign is getting kind of heated now. It's getting a little more exciting and intense."
A day earlier, touting his foreign policy credentials, Obama had said his life experience gave him a better feel for international issues than most candidates gain from official trips to other nations.
He noted his father was from Kenya and that he himself spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. "Probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact I spent four years overseas when I was a child in Southeast Asia," he said Monday.
Clinton has been slapping harder at Obama on the issue of experience — on Monday she said America's economy "can't afford on-the-job training" for the next president — as surveys show them in a tight race with former Sen. John Edwards for January's leadoff caucuses in Iowa.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Obama with 30 percent support among likely Democratic caucus-goers, Clinton with 26 percent and Edwards with 22 percent. About half the Clinton supporters who were surveyed said they had never attended a caucus compared with 43 percent of Obama supporters — a finding that could be significant because voters considered the most reliable caucus participants are those who have caucused before.
The Obama campaign kept up the exchange of tough talk after Clinton's comments on foreign experience Tuesday. Said Obama spokesman Bill Burton, "Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld have spent time in the White House and traveled to many countries as well, but along with Hillary Clinton they led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in a generation and are now giving George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran."
Sticking with the experience theme
Clinton made her fresh remarks from a state away. She had been scheduled to open the second day of a campaign trip through Iowa with a town hall meeting in Shenandoah, but aides said her plane was unable to land because of fog, disappointing more than 400 people gathered to hear her speech. She addressed them by speaker phone — from Omaha.
She sought to compare her experience — a two-term New York senator after eight years as first lady — with that of Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois.
"I offer the experience of being battle-tested in the political wars here at home," said Clinton, arguing that her background not only was superior as a potential president but also made her the most electable Democrat.
"For 15 years I've been the object of the Republican attack machine and I'm still here," she said.
She said she would be ready to address the problems facing the country on her first day in the White House.
"We have so many issues to deal with," she said. "I've traveled the world on behalf of our country. I've met with countless world leaders and know many of them personally."
Aides said she made more than 70 overseas trips during her time as first lady, was actively involved in policy during her husband's tenure in office and has been closely involved in foreign policy issues during her Senate tenure.
Obama's take on that: "A long resume does not guarantee good judgment."