ABC News’ Bret Hovell and Jennifer Parker Report: Sen. John McCain said Thursday Sen. Barack Obama’s willingness to sit down with the president of Iran shows "naiveté and inexperience and lack of judgment" — and indicated he will make the issue front-and-center in the general election if Obama becomes the nominee.
The presumptive Republican nominee was questioned about President Bush’s remarks to the Israeli Knesset -– which have been interpreted as an attack on Obama –- this morning when the President said that "some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
Bush said negotiating with terrorists and radicals is a "foolish delusion" and then "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is –- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history," Bush said.
Watch video of Bush’s comments on terror HERE.
The Obama camp responded to McCain: "It is the height of hypocrisy for John McCain to deliver a lofty speech about civility and bipartisanship in the morning and then embrace George Bush’s disgraceful political attack in the afternoon. Instead of delivering meaningful change, John McCain wants to continue George Bush’s irresponsible and failed Iran policy by refusing to engage in tough, direct diplomacy like Presidents from Kennedy to Reagan have done," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.
During a Democratic presidential debate in July, Obama was asked if he would be willing to meet separately "without preconditions" during the first year of his administration with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea; Obama said, "I would." However the Obama campaign maintains he would expect certain basic conditions to be met.
Obama fired back against Bush today in a statement that read, in part: "It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power — including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria."
McCain weighed in Thursday, highlighting the president of Iran’s comments about Israel.
Watch the VIDEO HERE.
Saying he takes Bush at his word that he wasn’t speaking directly of Obama, McCain said, "It does bring up an issue I will be discussing with the American people, and that is why does Barack Obama, Senator Obama want to sit down with a state sponsor of terrorism?" McCain said in the back of his campaign bus.
"What does he want to talk about with, with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad who said that Israel’s a stinking corpse, who said that he wants to wipe Israel off the map, who’s sending the most explosive devices into Iraq, killing Americans?" he said. "The point is that peace through strength is the way we achieve peace in the world. That’s the point. I will debate this issue with Senator Obama throughout this campaign."
Going farther, McCain continued to connect Obama with Ahmadinejad and highlight the Iranian leader’s incendiary comments about Israel.
"I think Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terror that is responsible for the killing of brave young Americans and wants to wipe Israel off the map and denies the Holocaust," McCain said.
"It is a serious error on the part of Senator Obama that shows naiveté and inexperience and lack of judgment to say that he wants to sit down across the table from an individual who leads a country that says and says that Israel is a stinking corpse, that is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel."