Obama: Bush, McCain Should ‘Explain Why They Have a Problem With JFK’

May 17, 2008 5:53pm

ABC News Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama went one step further today in his pushback against presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and President Bush on appeasement, suggesting that both Republicans have a problem with presidents past who have engaged in direct diplomacy.

"If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy, led by the president of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy because that’s what he did with [Soviet leader Nikita] Khrushchev, or Ronald Reagan, ’cause that’s what he did with [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev, or Richard Nixon ’cause that’s what they did with [Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung]," Obama said in Roseburg, Ore. "That’s exactly the kind of diplomacy we need to keep us safe."

Obama called the dust-up "appealing," after Bush said in Israel at the Knesset that it was a mistake to talk about diplomacy with "terrorists and radicals."

"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. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. 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."

Obama also blasted McCain’s healthcare proposals during a town-hall meeting.

"Essentially his plan is we’re gonna dismantle the employer-based system and give everybody a tax break and then see if you can fend for yourself in the marketplace," Obama told the crowd. "He wants to give you the failed Bush health-care polices for another four years."

Obama has been increasing the frequency of his criticisms of McCain, pointing out the contrasts in their views on national security, the economy, the rural agenda, and now health care.

The McCain campaign fired back at the Democrat after the remarks.

"Offering the current Iranian regime an unconditional summit and the status of a super power akin to the Soviets, as Barack Obama has suggested, shows incredibly weak judgment and a dangerous lack of experience," McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

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