THE NOTE: Obama Blasts Clinton on Iraq, Iran


Yes, the Democrats and the Republicans who want to be president really are running in the very same year.

The top Republican candidates are currently skewering each other over who would seek the least amount of legal advice before attacking Iran.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are attacking the front-runner over a resolution that MIGHT be interpreted as emboldening the president to think about attacking Iran.

This is yet more evidence of the yawning divide between the parties (or, at least, what the candidates perceive as that divide). But in terms of real important distinctions between the candidates, the heat exceeds the light -- an indication of the urgency surrounding more than a few candidacies at this moment.

On the Democratic side, the fifth anniversary of a certain Senate vote authorizing war in Iraq is ample fodder for the Democrats who want to take on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. And (no surprise here) one candidate in particular is trying to draw as much attention as possible to the calendar.

"She was too willing to give the president a blank check," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told the AP's Philip Elliott (and you should know who "she" is by now). "There's been a little bit of revisionist history since that time, where she indicates she was only authorizing only inspectors or additional diplomacy." This is how it's about Iran: "The question is: Does she apply different judgment today?"

Obama is backing up that argument with a new online ad today. (Title: "Blank Check.") "While other Democrats fell in line behind George Bush, Barack Obama opposed the war from the start," a voice-over says. "And he's fighting to end it now, and to prevent history from repeating itself."

And Obama takes his argument against the Iran resolution to the op-ed page of the Union Leader: "Sen. Clinton says she was merely voting for more diplomacy, not war with Iran. If this has a familiar ring, it should. Five years after the original vote for war in Iraq, Sen. Clinton has argued that her vote was not for war -- it was for diplomacy, or inspections." His close: "This is not a debate about 2002; it's about the future, and in that debate I can run on, and not from, my record."

But this is inconvenient for Obama, as he tries to make a case against Clinton based on the Iran vote (yes, the vote that he missed): "If I thought there was any way it could be used as a pretense to launch an invasion of Iran I would have voted no," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tells the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman. Obama often cites Durbin's vote against the Iraq war as evidence that senators should have known better than to buy into President Bush's arguments in 2002, Zuckman points out.

Clinton is avoiding direct engagement with Obama. Yesterday, she talked up expanding Internet access to rural areas (shortly before listening to the Goo Goo Dolls in a fund-raising concert; "The greatest band to ever hit the stage," said that great concert promoter Terry McAuliffe, per ABC's Eloise Harper).

Clinton also sat down with The Boston Globe editorial board yesterday, and offered up some quotes that are likely to be clipped and saved by oppo staffs. Though she's a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she said she had no idea that Blackwater USA had immunity from prosecution in Iraq. "Maybe I should have known about it; I did not know about it," she said, per the Globe's Marcella Bombardieri.

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