Newt: Obama Missed an Opportunity

Posted: Nov 06, 2007 4:59 PM
Barack Obama would have been wise to stick to his controversial contention that a U.S. president should be willing to meet with hostile enemy leaders.  That's according to a new American Solutions survey Newt Gingrich presented today at the National Press Club.

As you'll recall, in a July 23 debate in Charleston, SC, Obama was asked if he would be "willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?" 

Obama's answer was: 
I would. And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them--which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration--is ridiculous. Ronald Reagan constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when he called them an evil empire. He understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.
To which Hillary Clinton responded:
I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy. 

... At the time, most analysts (including yours truly) believed Hillary won the argument by accusing Obama of being "naive."  Probably for this reason, Obama seems to have backed off using this issue against Hillary.

But a question posed in a new American Solutions survey (which will be available tomorrow) seems to argue that Obama was on to something. 

When asked: "Do you believe it is possible to negotiate with individual countries that pose a threat to the safety of Americans, or not?," 68 percent of those polled said it was.  (A safe guess is that an even higher percentage of Democrat primary voters share this opinion).

In remarks this afternoon, Gingrich said the polling demonstrates that Obama missed an opportunity to score points against Hillary, and "should've stuck to his guns."  

(Note:  There was an interesting and clear disconnect between people's opinions regarding negotiating with hostile nations versus negotiating with terrorist groups.  In another question, 79 percent of those surveyed did not believe it was possible to negotiate with terrorist organizations).

American Solutions will release the entire survey, which included six separate nation-wide polls, tomorrow on their website. 

Other interesting findings included the fact that 83 percent believe, "America should take the threat of terror by fanatical religious groups more seriously," and 84 percent of those surveyed believe keeping God in the Pledge and Declaration of Independence are important because it makes clear that "certain rights can't be taken away by government" -- a rather sophisticated and encouraging analysis ...