Barack ObamaJohn McCainPresident 2008

Barack Obama Watch: The Foreign Policy Debate

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Glenn McCoy on Barack Obama

Senator John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee for President, kept up the heat today on Barack Obama on which topic?

Why, foreign policy.

Using a Cuban folklorico band as a warm-up act, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) highlighted his opposition to the Cuban government this morning and questioned Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) willingness to talk to its current president, Raul Castro.

Vowing, “as president, I will not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy,” McCain said he would keep the U.S. embargo in place until the regime’s leaders agreed “to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions, and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections…. Make no mistake Cuba is destined to be free. Cuba is destined to be free.”

The presumptive GOP nominee also sought to differentiate his Cuba policy as much as possible from Obama’s, quoting an answer Obama gave in a questionnaire a few years ago when he backed lifting the embargo. At the time, Obama wrote, “I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene.” Noting wryly that his opponent’s approach represented “an interesting perspective on Cuba,” McCain drew chuckles from the crowd.

While Obama now says he wants to ease the embargo instead of lifting it altogether, McCain used his speech as an opportunity to blast Obama’s vow to meet Raul Castro and other hostile foreign leaders without conditions: simply mentioning the Democrat’s position inspired boos from several members of the audience.

“These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba’s dictators — there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in US policy,” McCain said. “I believe we should give hope to the Cuban people, not to the Castro regime. My administration will press the Cuban government. The embargo must stay in place until these basic elements of democratic society are met.”

McCain WILL enjoy the support of the Cuban community and capture Florida as a red state in the fall. He currently leads in the polling against Obama.

Notice how McCain is pounding Obama on McCain’s strength – foreign policy. John Bolton outlined the initiation of debate yesterday in his piece in the Wall Street Journal.

President Bush’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, where he equated “negotiat[ing] with the terrorists and radicals” to “the false comfort of appeasement,” drew harsh criticism from Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders. They apparently thought the president was talking about them, and perhaps he was.

Wittingly or not, the president may well have created a defining moment in the 2008 campaign. And Mr. Obama stepped right into the vortex by saying he was willing to debate John McCain on national security “any time, any place.” Mr. McCain should accept that challenge today.

Apparently, McCain has accepted the challenge.

Look for Team McCain to pound Obama on his inexperience and naive approach (appeasement) to international affairs.

Advantage McCain.

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