Barack Obama said today that while he believed Columbia University had a right to invite Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, he would not have done so.
Speaking at the announcement of his endorsement by the city’s correction officer benevolent association in midtown, he said, “One of the values we believe in is the value of academic freedom.”
He added, “I probably would not have invited him to speak. He has got other forums available to him.”
Obama said that did not change his position on negotiating with the Iranian leader if he were elected President.
“Nothing has changed with my belief,” Obama said, citing John F. Kennedy’s statement that “we should never fear to negotiate.”
Obama has taken heat from Hillary Clinton for that position, which she said revealed his inexperience.
And about the Columbia speech, Hillary told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, “If I were a president of the university, I would not have invited him. He’s a Holocaust denier. He’s a supporter of terrorism. But I also respect the right in our country to make different decisions.”
Obama said there was no reason to fear the “rantings” of Ahmadinejad, which he characterized as “odious” because “the answer to those lies is for us to promote the truth.”