(AFP) – Nov 19, 2007
CLARION, United States (AFP) — Democratic 2008 hopeful Barack Obama argued Monday his childhood years in Indonesia and ties to Kenya would make him a better president than rivals who had seen the world on congressional junkets.
Obama's comments were a veiled swipe at his party foes, including front-runner Hillary Clinton, who has questioned if he is ready for the Oval Office.
The 46-year-old senator, who has family in Kenya and spent four years in Indonesia as a child, said little can be learned from tightly controlled official tours of foreign nations.
"You get picked up at the airport by this big convoy of security details," Obama said in a campaign stop in Iowa, which holds its crucial leadoff caucuses nominating contests on January 3.
"They drive you over to the ambassador's house. You get lunch. Then you go take a tour of some factory or some school. Children do a native dance," he told an audience of about 300 people.
Obama said candidates who did not understand foreign cultures, would have a tough time making good foreign policy decisions.
"If you don't understand these cultures then it's very hard for you to make good foreign policy decisions. Foreign policy is all about judgment," said Obama.
"The benefit of my life of having both lived overseas and traveled overseas ... is, I have a better sense of how they're thinking and what their society is really like," Obama said.
"A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs isn't just what I studied in school -- I studied international relations when I was in college -- it's not just the work I do on the Senate foreign relations committee.
"It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live."
Obama has frequently criticized Clinton's judgement on foreign policy, highlighting her vote in 2002 to authorize the Iraq war, as an example.
But Clinton has touted her countless trips abroad in her own right as first lady between 1993 and 2001, and her more than six years experience as a senator.
"It is important that we have a candidate that is tested and a president who is ready to lead from day one," she said, in a Democratic debate last week, in her own shot at Obama.
Obama's remarks came in response to a question about his perceived lack of experience.
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