Obama's Gibbs on Embracing Clinton's Criticism

After Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Forum yesterday, I asked his communications director Robert Gibbs if Obama was specifically contrasting himself with Hillary Clinton when he said, “When you elect our next President, you will choose someone who will make those judgments on Iraq, and Iran and how to restore America’s standing – and you have to be able to trust that he or she has the judgment to lead.”

Gibbs said, “Yeah. I don’t think there is any doubt. There is no question that they have come to vastly different judgments about foreign policy.”

I asked him whether it was by design that the Obama campaign has tended to respond to the Clinton campaign’s criticisms by embracing whatever alleged weakness he’s being accused of.

(Since Clinton sharply questioned Obama rooting his foreign policy experience in living in Southeast Asia as a child, he and his foreign policy advisers have only more aggressively argued the point. His much-remarked upon stated willingness to meet without precondition in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, is one of the key tenets of his stump speech.)

"I think they believed in each one of these instances that there was some tactical advantage on their part. ‘Oh my god, no one talks to our enemies, no one does that,’" Gibbs said.

"It’s a larger argument on how you do a campaign and the tactics that surround it and I think that their campaign is predicated on, you’re relatively cautious, you don’t stray too far from the normal line and you certainly minimize anything that can cause you trouble. That maybe perfectly acceptable, but it doesn’t fundamentally change anything we’ve had for the last seven years."