Obama Explains Why He Didn’t Vote on MoveOn Ad

Sep 20, 2007 8:08pm

ABC News’ Jonathan Greenberger Reports: When the U.S. Senate voted earlier today on a resolution denouncing the liberal organization MoveOn.org for its recent advertisement referring to Gen. David Petraeus as "General Betray Us," Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., was notably absent.

He was in Washington – he canceled a planned town hall forum in Rock Hill, SC, specifically so he could vote on a series of Iraq-related measures – but when the MoveOn resolution came up, Obama was nowhere to be seen.

Tonight, at a fundraiser in Atlanta, Obama explained why.

"The notion that we’re wasting time debating about a newspaper ad makes no sense. So I just, I didn’t even vote on that vote," said Obama. "This is the kind of game playing that the American people are tired of."

But it’s also true that the bill put Obama in a tough spot: oppose it, and he risked looking like he doesn’t support the military; support it, and he would put himself at odds with a key liberal constituency. By skipping the vote, Obama didn’t have to choose sides.

And as the Republican National Committee gleefully pointed out to reporters this afternoon, Obama has previously taken a pass on voting "yea" or "nay" when it comes to some controversial legislation: The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this year that while in the Illinois Senate, Obama "said he worked out an arrangement with abortion-rights advocates to encourage Democrats to vote ‘present’ on some bills if they feared a ‘no’ would look insensitive and endanger their re-election."

Obama has previously called the MoveOn ad "counterproductive," and tonight he called it a "distraction."

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