Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain described his Democratic rival Barack Obama’s willingness to negotiate with enemies of the United States as “unacceptable” in a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
"I think it is an unacceptable position and shows Senator Obama does not have the knowledge, the experience, the background to make the kind of judgments that are necessary to preserve this nation."
“My question to Senator Obama is ‘what do you want to talk about with them?'” McCain asked. Specifically addressing the scenario in which Obama might meet with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad McCain said, “If Senator Obama wants to sit down across the table form a leader of a country that calls Israel a ‘stinking corpse’ and comes to New York to say he is going to wipe Israel off the map, what is it that he wants to talk about."
McCain added doing this would give Iran “prestige enhancement and a bigger influence in the region which would be directly contrary to America’s national security interests.”
Obama’s diplomacy was a hot topic of conversation of the call, held hours after President Bush scolded “appeasement” in a speech celebrating Israel’s 60th birthday Tuesday morning.
Before the Israeli Knesset President Bush said: “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. 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.”
The Obama campaign released a statement sharply criticizing Bush for these statements.
“It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack,” it said. “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."
Obama has said several times while campaigning for the Democratic nomination he would meet with “friends and foes” of the United States, a position his rivals, including Hillary Clinton, have scolded him for holding.
“It’s time to end the politics of fear,” is one of Obama’s favorite responses criticisms pertaining to his open negotiation philosophy-- a refrain repeated in his Tuesday statement.
The White House contends the President’s “appeasement” reference was not specifically directed towards Obama. “There are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks we should not talk to,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel.
“I understand when you’re running for office you think sometimes the world revolves around you” Perino said. “That is not always true and it is not true in this case.”
McCain was asked on the blogger call if he believed Bush was directing those remarks towards Obama. “President Bush said he wasn’t talking about Senator Obama and I take President Bush at his word,” McCain said.
McCain held the call Tuesday afternoon after making a speech in Columbus, Ohio about his vision for America in the year 2013 after four years of President McCain.