With the critical foreign policy challenges America faces in the world today, voters will have to decide which candidate has the strength and experience to be the next president of the United States.
In an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Senator Obama served in the Illinois state senate just three years ago and would have less experience than any president since World War II, Senator Obama and his advisors have gone on the attack. They have criticized the role Senator Clinton has played in promoting American interests during her eight years as First Lady, seven years in the Senate, and four years as a member of the Senator Armed Services Committee.
Senator Clinton as First Lady was "America's finest ambassador abroad," Madeleine Albright's office said at the time. Hillary Clinton did much more than "get picked up at the airport by a state convoy and security detail . . . . and get lunch" with an ambassador, as Senator Obama implied recently. As Newsweek reported about Senator Clinton's diplomatic missions as First Lady, "She often travels to remote regions where no presidential motorcade would venture and where no secretary of state would have time to go." Her 1995 speech at the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, where she famously proclaimed "women's rights are human rights," remains an inspiration to leaders of the fight for women's equality around the world. Long before others, she visited countries stricken by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria throughout the world, urging better prevention and treatment strategies, and returned to Washington to push for greater action within the US government. Her 1995 trip to India helped open the door to the transformation in relations between the world's two largest democracies. She raised awareness on mine issues in the Balkans and led humanitarian efforts on behalf of Kosovar refugees.
As Senator, Hillary has fought to ensure our troops have the body armor they need while in combat, and she has passed laws so that returning soldiers are treated with dignity when they return home. She has placed education at the center of U.S. international assistance. She has been a leader in combating nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism. She has championed efforts to end the genocide in Darfur and been a leading voice in calling for action to end global warming. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has visited our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan three times.
By contrast Senator Obama has been in the U.S. Senate under three years. His campaign has touted his experience as chairman of a subcommittee on European affairs, which, according to Congressional Quarterly, has not held a hearing since he assumed the chairmanship nearly a year ago. Senator Obama has traveled to Iraq once, 23 months ago.
We respect Senator Obama's opposition to the war as a state senator in Illinois. But when he was actually in a position to influence policy from the U.S. Senate, he did not give a speech devoted to Iraq for 11 months, and waited 16 months to give his first floor speech dedicated to Iraq, which happened to express his opposition to Senator John Kerry's troop withdrawal plan. He said of his views on Iraq in 2004, "There's not much of a difference between my positions and George Bush's position at this stage." When asked if he would have voted for the 2002 resolution on Iraq had he been in the Senate at the time, he said in 2004, "I don't know." Since he joined the Senate, Senator Obama's voting record on Iraq has been virtually identical to Senator Clinton's. Indeed the only time they voted differently was when Senator Clinton voted against confirming General Casey, the former Commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq, to be Army Chief of Staff.
Senator Clinton is committed to ending the war in Iraq. She will bring our troops home responsibly and swiftly, and in her first term. Last July, she announced her detailed plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq, beginning within her first 60 days in office. She has voted repeatedly to bring the troops home at a pace of one to two brigades per month. Two weeks ago she voted for legislation that would require President Bush to bring combat troops home by December 2008.
Similarly, Senator Obama's campaign contends he "stood up against the march to war with Iran." They ignore the fact that Hillary went to the Senate floor last February long before Senator Obama to warn the Bush administration that they could not take any military action without congressional approval. She co-sponsored legislation with Senator Webb that denies the administration any funds for military action against Iran. And she has joined with Senator Durbin on a resolution that denies the President any unilateral authority to use force against Iran.
Senator Obama has also criticized Senator Clinton's support for a resolution urging the Bush administration to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. But Senator Obama also supports designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. In fact, Senator Obama cosponsored legislation in April that called on the Secretary of State to do exactly that. While Senator Obama says he opposed this resolution, in truth, he did not cast a vote. He missed the vote. He said nothing to indicate that he opposed this legislation before the vote. He was silent at a Presidential Debate that took place on the very day the vote was cast.
As Senator Obama has acknowledged, we do not know how we would have voted on Iraq if he had been in the Senate in 2002, but we do know what he did as a Senator in 2007 on a resolution he said was "dangerous." He missed it.
At this time of great international challenge, we need a President who will take a stand when it counts. We need a president who can inspire the world and win its trust and confidence. From her experiences as First Lady where she garnered the respect of people around the world, Hillary Clinton is uniquely positioned to repair the breach of the Bush Administration's foreign policy disasters, and restore American leadership in the world on Day 1 of her Presidency.