July 24, 2008
By Samantha Hayes
WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton saw it as Barack Obama's Achilles' heel and called her opponent naive. John McCain is hitting Obama on the same issue. Foreign policy. It all started one year ago today.
On Monday, July 24th, eight Democratic candidates gathered in Charleston, South Carolina for the CNN/YouTube Debate. The first of its kind format created several memorable moments, forcing the candidates to think on their feet and leave their usual prepared responses at home. It was one of those moments that has followed Obama throughout this past year, defending and promoting an idea that created one of the first dividing lines between himself and the other candidates. The question came from a viewer who asked if the candidates would be willing to meet with leaders of Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea. Obama not only said yes, he also chastised the Bush Administration saying, "it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous."
Obama has stuck to that statement, fending off attacks from his rivals, and using caution in his recent statements from Israel, where he was mindful of tenuous support among Jewish voters back home. Obama had tough words for Iran and its nuclear ambitions saying, "...I will take no options off the table in dealing with this potential Iranian threat." But would he still meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Obama says if he thought it would promote the United States' security interests, he would be willing to meet with any leader, but said there is a difference between "meeting without preconditions and meeting without preparations." Following those remarks, McCain's campaign accused Obama of shifting his position and said his comments show "his refusal to admit a mistake about what he said." The Obama campaign has accused McCain of making mistakes in some of his recent comments about Iraq. At this stage in the game, it's not easy for either candidate to admit mistakes.