Obama speaks with Houston veterans

February 29, 2008 5:57:45 PM PST
Democrat Barack Obama accused his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday of trying to "scare up votes" with a television ad showing sleeping children and asking who would be more qualified to answer a national security emergency call at 3 a.m. "We've seen these ads before," the Illinois senator said while campaigning in Texas. "They're the kind that play on peoples' fears to scare up votes. Well, it won't work this time. Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is: What kind of judgment will you make when you answer?"

To the sound of a ringing phone, the Clinton ad shows children sleeping at night and a mother checking on a child as an announcer says a phone is ringing in the White House and something has happened in the world. It ends with an image of Clinton on the telephone as the announcer asks, "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"

In a speech to veterans and their families Friday, Obama responded:

"We've had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer."

Obama said he stood up in 2002 "and said that a war in Iraq would cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. I said that it would distract us from the real threat we face and that we should take the fight to al-Qaida in Afghanistan. That's the judgment I made on the most important foreign policy decision of our generation, and that's the kind of judgment I'll show when I answer that phone in the White House as President of the United States."

"That's the judgment we need at 3 a.m. And that's the judgment that I am running for President to provide," he added.

The Clinton ad began airing in Texas on Friday morning. The Obama campaign also responded by re-airing an ad in which retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, the Air Force chief of staff from 1990 to 1994, endorses Obama.

Addressing 60 veterans and their families at a town hall meeting at American Legion Post 490 in Houston, Obama said, "Veterans are bearing the brunt of bad decision-making by our leaders."

The president's job is "to keep people safe. ... It means deploying our military wisely," he continued. "War should not be the first resort. ... lt should not be based on politics."

Texas is home to 16 active-duty military bases, including Fort Hood, the nation's largest Army post,

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