Obama Responds to Clinton in Rhode Island

Mar 1, 2008 5:38pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: In his first visit to the smallest state, Rhode Island, Sen. Barack Obama tried to draw big differences between himself and his competitor, Sen. Hillary Clinton, under the guise of questioning who can bring about real change.

Obama argued that Clinton has not led for real change on a myriad of topics, and launched into a cadenced criticism saying, "Real change isn’t calling NAFTA a victory and saying how good it was for American people until you decide to run for president, like Sen. Clinton did… Real change isn’t saying that you’ll stand up to lobbyists and special interests when you’ve taken more money from Washington lobbyists than any Democrat or Republican running for president, like my opponent has… Real change isn’t voting for a bankruptcy bill that makes it harder for working families to climb out of debt."

The final "real change" argument -– on the Iraq war -– was a direct response to Clinton’s criticisms of Obama, which reached new heights this week. The Clinton campaign has ratcheted up its criticism of Obama’s foreign policy credentials and launched a bold ad questioning who was better prepared to pick up the phone in the White House during a crisis at 3 a.m.

Obama reminded the crowd twice during his speech that he was against the war from the start and that Clinton voted for the war.

"Real change isn’t voting for George Bush’s war in Iraq and then telling the American people it was actually voting for more diplomacy when you start running for president. The title of the bill was ‘A Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.’ That’s sounds like you were voting for "Authorize use of armed forces," he joked and then said defiantly, "I knew what it was."

Obama did not vote either way on the bill because in 2002 he was not a U.S. Senator at the time.

Obama’s speech at the Rhode Island College Recreational Center came the same week Clinton was in the same room campaigning. At that speech Clinton joked about Obama thinking that the clouds will part and he will wave a magic wand to get change to happen.

Obama responded today, saying he’s been teased a lot during this campaign.

"She was saying — right in this building — she was saying, ‘oh, you know he thinks that the clouds will part and you know he’s so naïve… He thinks he can wave a magic wand, suddenly everything will be great.’ You know, it is true that I talk about hope a lot…" But he said he knows how hard it will be to bring about change.

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