Hillary Clinton is nothing if she's not the candidate of strength and experience, and Barack Obama will not concede the points. Nicked by the press after Monday night's debate, Obama's campaign has ferociously counterpunched the last two days, giving an on-camera interview to NBC News and repeating his comments this morning with a gentle taunt: prove you're different than Bush-Cheney.
"I think we've got her on her heels," one adviser bragged to me last night.
Speaking of bragging:
One thing I'm very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than any other candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat," Obama said
This bravado, according to the dogged Jake Tapper of ABC News, was Obama's at an "off-the-record" event hosted by Time Magazine in New York two nights ago. Tapper was tipped off by attendees.
Such superlatives are uncommon for presidential candidates and uncommon all the more for Barack Obama. The audacity! Well -- Obama believes it!
Obama and Clinton talk about experience in different ways. Clinton has the more conventional definition. Experience is resume; the requisites for the job. Obama's definition hinges on lived experience; varities of experience. In Obama's mind (and I am getting this from his friends, not from the ether), true experience produces wisdom; and wisdom leads to judgment, and judgment leads to, well, the ability to see around the corner on Iraq.
He told Lynn Sweet this morning:
The debate is not just about life experience, although obviously that informs my perspective. It also has to do with perspective with how the United States should project its interests and ideals around the world. it's a debate over the same conventional thinking that led people to authorize the war in Iraq without asking question versus and approach to foreign policy that allows people to ask questions and is informed by a knowledge and perspective of cultures like those in Iraq and is not trapped by a lot of received wisdom.
Tuesday, Clinton was charging at Obama; Wednesday, Obama charged back, and the Clinton campaign sent out a defensive statement from Richard Holbrooke.
The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous," he said in an interview outside his Senate office. "But the general principle is one that I think Senator Clinton is wrong on, and that is if we are laying out preconditions that prevent us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we are continuing with Bush-Cheney policies."
Later Wednesday, the Clinton campaign issued a statement by former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is supporting her candidacy, taking issue with Obama's comments and saying she would bring an end to "the cowboy approach of the Bush years."