Gov. Tom Vilsack, acting as a surrogate for Sen. Hillary Clinton, blasted Sen. Barack Obama this morning for deliberately attempting to "mask" the similarities between his position on meetings with foreign leaders and hers,
Earlier in the day, Obama told Democrats in Des Moines that it was "time to turn the page on the Bush-Cheney diplomatic strategy that has isolated America from our allies and reduced our moral standing in the international community." On Thursday, he called Sen. Clinton's position "Bush-Cheney Lite."
Vilsack, on a conference call with national political reporters, called Obama's comments "certainly audacious but not particularly hopeful." "It's not the Iowa way," he said, and it "flies in the face of the promise Sen. Obama gave to all of us at the beginning of this campaign to avoid negative politics."
Vilsack, citing Obama's pre-debate interview with Miami Herald where he suggested he'd meet with Hugo Chavez "under certain conditions," said that Obama "agrees" with Clinton's. view but is trying to "confuse" the issue by stepping up his rhetoric.
Also Saturday, Obama's campaign mailed a letter from ex-Iowa Min. Leader Richard Myers, a Korean War veteran, who wrote that “Senator Obama offers a dramatic change from the Bush administration’s seven-year refusal to protect our security interests by using every tool of American power available – including diplomacy. In short, his view of American diplomacy reflects our values.”
The letter was mailed to "thousands of undecided Iowans" who have told the Obama campaign that foreign policy was their top voting issue.
Update: Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, e-mails a response to Vilsack:
The politics of hope requires us to shake up the establishment status quo that has to change. Obama has been crystal clear in saying that he be the most aggressive in fundamentally changing our nation’s foreign policy.
This is a substantive debate during which she called Obama irresponsible and naive. Obama has been entirely consistent -- he never said he would invite dictators over for a cup of coffee and he said he wouldn’t let these dictators use him as a propaganda tool. What he did say was that he would be willing to meet with them.