Obama accuses Clinton of “bad judgment”

Speaking this afternoon on a farm near Adel — with a flat field of corn behind him — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama escalated his war of words with rival Hillary Clinton.

"We can’t keep on doing the same stuff all the time.  You know, some of you noticed that this week I got into a debate with one of my colleagues who’s also running for the presidency and the debate was about whether or not we talk to world leaders even when we don’t like ’em and my theory was you do and you do it without preconditions," Obama said, to applause from the crowd.  "And, you know, some of the pundits in Washington, they said, ‘Oh, that shows inexperience, that he’d be willing to tlak to folks’ and my attitude was what do we have to fear as Americans?  Why is it that we should be afraid when we’ve got, if we know who we are, if we know what we stand for, then we shouldn’t be afraid to meet anybody because we’ll tell ’em what we believe and what makes this country great.  They may not like what we have to say," Obama said, as the crowd interrupted him with applause.  "But we’re going to go ahead and speak to ’em about those issues."

The crowd applauded.

"And what’s interesting is when I said that people kind of scratched their head because it wasn’t what they were accustomed to hearing.  So often in Washington, experience means doing what we’ve been doing over and over and over again.  Well, to me that’s not experience if what you’re doing isn’t working.  It’s bad judgment and if you want to show good judgment, then you’ve got to be open to changing the way we do things in order to get different outcomes and that means driving the agenda from here in the heartland, not having it driven by special interests.  It means being willing to try new approaches to our foreign policy so that we strengthen our diplomacy."

Here’s what Mark Daley, an Iowa-based spokesman for the Clinton campaign, had to type in response (he sent this via email, hence the "type" rather than "say").

"A day before the debate, Senator Obama said he’d meet with Hugo Chavez ‘under certain conditions.’ At the debate, he said he’d be willing to meet with him without preconditions. Senator Obama should explain his position before he attacks others," Daley said, a reference to something in the Miami Herald.

And now, more from Daley.  "….Sen. Clinton believes we need to practice vigorous diplomacy to put an end to the cowboy approach of the Bush years but does not believe we should give away the leverage of a meeting with the U.S. President before discussions even begin with anti-American leaders like Castro and Chavez, and people like Ahmadinejad who deny the Holocaust happened.  Sen. Clinton thinks we need to be smart about diplomacy."

I left the event in Adel early on in the Q&A to get back to the newsroom and write, edit, etc.  Sources on the ground say Obama drew blank stares and no response from the crowd when he mentioned the outrageous price for "arugula" at "Whote Foods."  The intrepid Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times notes that if the folks in Adel, Iowa, want to shop at Whole Foods, they’ll have to drive to Kansas City or Omaha as those cities have the closest Whole Foods stores.  I have some friends (one of whom is a chef) who are big fans of arugula, but they call it "rocket."  Finally, why was a guy campaigning in red-meat Iowa talking about salad fixings in the first place?  Belgian endive, anyone?  (As you may recall, 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis suggested Iowa farmers should try to grow alternative crops, like Belgian endive.)

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.