Asked about his foreign policy credentials on ABC News' "Good Morning America" in January, Obama said his "experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I mean, I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. You know, I majored in international relations."
Obama's boast this week came on the same day that he and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton got into a heated back-and-forth about their respective answers to a question at the first official Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debate, held Monday night in Charleston, S.C.
The fracas ensued after a voter, via Youtube, asked whether candidates would "be willing to meet separately, without preconditions, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries."
Clinton said she would not make such a pledge, since one doesn't "promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse."
In interviews with Iowa's Quad City Times Tuesday, both candidates took shots at one another. "I thought that was irresponsible and, frankly, naive to say that he [Sen. Obama] would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro and others within the first year," Clinton said. "Sen. Obama gave an answer which I think he's regretting today."
Countered Obama: "If anything is irresponsible and naive, it was authorizing George Bush to send 160,000 young American men and women into Iraq -- apparently without knowing how they were going to get out."
Moreover, Obama said, "If Sen. Clinton's interested in a continuation of the Bush-Cheney diplomatic strategies over the next several years, that's fine, but she certainly can't claim the mantle of change. She's not going to be able to significantly shift the perception of the United States around the world."
The back and forth exemplified how Clinton is running as the candidate of experience, Obama as the candidate of change, and how heated the race for the Democratic presidential nominee is becoming.