Republicans are using a clock as their latest bludgeon against Barack Obama's foreign policy credentials.
The Republican National Committee started a clock today on its website to track the number of days it has been since Obama has visited Iraq.
“Barack Obama has only visited Iraq once -- and that was 871 days ago," RNC Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan said in a statement. "Despite lacking the experience and leadership to be commander-in-chief, Obama has done shockingly little to educate himself firsthand about the war in Iraq. Instead, he displays an arrogant certainty gained on the campaign trail. How would Obama make informed judgments in the future when he has not seen the situation in Iraq since the surge began? Why does Obama readily agree to one-on-one negotiations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but decline one-on-one briefings in Baghdad with our military leaders? Obama’s failure to visit Iraq, listen and learn firsthand, and witness the surge’s progress demonstrates weak leadership that disqualifies him from being commander in chief.”
John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has huge differences with Obama, the Democratic front-runner, on the Iraq war. And McCain has been hammering on what he calls Obama's inexperience and lack of judgment on the issues he believes are his strong suit for the fall election -- national security, terrorism, and foreign policy.
But the war is very unpopular with voters, and Obama's campaign sees advantage as well.
UPDATE: Obama told the New York Times late today that he is considering a visit to Iraq this summer, his first to the war zone since becoming a presidential candidate.
But Obama declined McCain's invitation for a joint trip.
"I just don't want to be involved in a political stunt," Obama said, according to a report on the newspaper's website. "I think that if I'm going to Iraq, then I'm there to talk to troops and talk to commanders," he said in the interview. "I'm not there to try to score political points or perform. The work they're doing there is too important."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.