Obama criticizes Clinton over her words about Iran
04-May-2008 (3 comments)

INDIANAPOLIS - Barack Obama scolded Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday for saying that the United States would "totally obliterate" Iran if it attacks Israel, and likened her to President Bush. Clinton stood by her comment.

The foreign policy dustup came as the two candidates appeared separately on dueling Sunday news shows and as the drawn-out fight for the Democratic nomination grew ever more fierce ahead of the next pivotal pair of primaries, in Indiana and North Carolina on Tuesday.

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MR. RUSSERT: And we are

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MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. We're in Indiana. Why? Because that's the primary on Tuesday. We're in Indianapolis talking to Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for president.

Iraq and Iran, the administration, we have reported at NBC, are drawing up some plans for potential airstrikes in Iran at different missile weapons factories or special force compounds because we have indications, evidence that the Iranians are helping some of their supporters within Iraq to kill U.S. troops.

SEN. OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: If it could be demonstrated that was a fact, would you be in support of such limited attacks in Iran?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, let, let me not speculate yet. I want to, I want to take a, take a look at the kind of evidence that the administration is putting forward, what these plans are exactly. I've always said that, you know, as commander in chief, I don't take military options off the table and I think it's appropriate for us to plan for a whole host of contingencies. But let's look at the larger picture. Iran has been the biggest strategic beneficiary of our invasion of Iraq, they are stronger because of our decision to go in; and what we have to do is figure out how are we going to recalibrate our strategic position in the region. I think that starts with pulling our combat troops out of Iraq. We have placed them in harm's way, we have fanned the flames of anti-American sentiment, we are distracted from what's the from what's the real battle front that we need to focus on, which is Afghanistan and, and rooting out al-Qaeda. And if we put forward a plan where we are not going to be a permanent occupier in Iraq and we force the Iraqis to stand up and negotiate and come to a compromise that includes, by the way, a regional discussion with Iran, with Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and other regional powers, then I think we are going to be in a better posture to deal with the long-term threat of Iran and particularly its development of nuclear weapons. That's something that this administration has failed to do. I have consistently said that we've got to talk directly to Iran, send them a clear message that they have to stop, not only with their potential funding of militias inside of Iraq, but they also have to stop funding Hamas, they have to stop funding Hezbollah, they've got to stand down on their nuclear weapons. There will be continued consequences for those kinds of actions, but that here are also some carrots and possible benefits if they change behavior. Those kinds of direct talks have not taken place. That's the kind of change in foreign policy that I plan to put in place when I'm president of the United States.