Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama sat alongside former officials from Bill Clinton’s administration today on a stage in Des Moines to talk about his "judgment" on foreign policy. "From Sioux City to Des Moines to Davenport, I’m constantly asked about the changes we need to make in our foreign policy," Obama said. "…In a world of stateless terrorists and spreading technology, our own security and prosperity is tied to what happens around the world."
While the war in Iraq has oftentimes dominated the campaign debate, Obama said he wanted to focus on the "mindset" that got the U.S. there in the first place.
"There are moments in history when it is not enough to fall back on conventional ways of doing things because the threats we face, the challenges we face, are unconventional," Obama said. "There are moments when we’re called to stand up for what is right, even if it’s not popular because that’s what makes us stronger and safer. There are moments when new challenges demand new American leadership. This is one of those moments."
Obama vowed not to demand "ideological or loyalty tests" from his foreign policy advisors, something he accused President Bush of doing. Obama said he wouldn’t look for "yes men and women" but would seek out advisors who’d offer a "diverse set of views" to weigh as he made decisions. Obama answered a variety of questions from the crowd on hand, ranging from U.S. policy toward the Sudan to Iran’s nuclear intentions. But Obama began with a direct appeal.
"Since we are still in Iowa, I want all of your to Caucus for me," Obama said. "Before we get on to the less-weighty matters like nuclear proliferation, we have supporter cards here and if you’re still undecided and you decide afterwards, we’d love for you to fill one out."
President Clinton’s national security advisor and a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration were among those featured in a panel discussion before Obama arrived to join them on stage.
Click on the audio link below to listen to Obama’s speech.