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Monday, June 30, 2008

Wesley Clark: Getting 'shot down in plane' doesn't make John McCain qualified- UPDATE, Obama response added.

Video of Clark's remarks at YouTube here and below.

In the video above General Wesley Clark says, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president", about John McCain.

In an interview on Face the Nation, General Wesley Clark, who is a a key military adviser for Barack Obama, issued a critique that the LA Times 'Top of the Ticket' describes as something "Obama and his aides would just as soon stay away from", when he questioned John McCain's qualifications to be the president of the United States of America.

Clark claims that McCain is "untested and untried".

Pressed on that quote by moderator Bob Schieffer, Clark said that "in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk, it's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. ... He hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. ..."

These comments have caused a flurry of media stories as well as an uproar in the conservative blogosphere wondering if Clark or the Obama campaign understand the ramifications of questioning McCain's readiness considering how little experience Barack Obama has as well as having no military experience at all.

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for John McCain issued a statement immediately after Clark's remarks, saying, "The reality is he’s proving to be a typical politician who is willing to say anything to get elected, including allowing his campaign surrogates to demean and attack John McCain’s military service record.

John McCain is proud of his record of always putting the country first — from his time in the Navy, in Vietnam and through to today. And on the biggest question we’ve faced in recent years, the war in Iraq, the facts on the ground show that John McCain was right, as Barack Obama is about to find out after failing to visit there in over 900 days."

Retired Admiral Leighton "Snuffy" Smith, also criticized Clark's comments.

"If Barack Obama wants to question John McCain's service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates. If he expects the American people to believe his pledges about a new kind of politics, Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks. Smith said.

These exchanges between McCain and Obama and/or McCain surrogates and Obama surrogates comes just a day after McCain questioned Obama's trustworthiness while he was speaking at a fundraiser in Kentucky.

McCain had pointed to Obama’s not voting on a resolution to condemn a political ad; Obama’s slowness to be briefed on Iraq; Obama’s not taking him up on his offer to hold joint town hall meetings; and Obama’s decision to forego the public campaign financing system.

The question of experience is a conversation that many believe that John McCain would welcome having, one on one, with Barack Obama considering the military experience McCain and the lack thereof for Obama as well as the decades more legislative experience that McCain has.

This is one discussion Barack Obama truly does not want to have but since his surrogate has opened the door, he doesn't have much of a choice now.

More from Politico.

[Update] Barack Obama gave a speech I watched and in it he seems to be distancing himself from Clark's words when he says, "For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country — no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides."

[Update #2] The Obama campaign's response to Clark's comments:

"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark."