RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today dismissed comments by his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., that as a young, inexperienced president, he would be tested, as "rhetorical flourishes."
At a Seattle, Wash., fundraiser Sunday, Biden said, "Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America … Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
Obama today said that Biden was merely making the same point that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made to Bloomberg News yesterday, that "any period of transition creates a greater vulnerability, meaning there’s more likelihood of distraction. You have to be concerned it will create an operational opportunity for terrorists.” The first World Trade Center attack came in the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency; the 9/11 attack came in the first year of George Bush’s.
But when a reporter pointed out that Biden seemed to be speaking specifically about America’s enemies testing Obama in particular, Obama said, "Joe sometimes engages in some rhetorical flourishes. But I think his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested. The next administration is going to inherit a whole host of really big problems."
The next president, Obama said, would need to send a "clear signal to the rest of the world that we are no longer about bluster and unilateralism and ideology, but about creating partnerships around the world."
The McCain campaign has been trying to make hay out of Biden’s remarks, suggesting that Biden subconsciously gave voice to the concern that the enemies of the U.S. would be tempted to test the relatively inexperienced liberal candidate. "We don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars," McCain said Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller