Obama or Clinton? Who'd Be the Better Diplomat?

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The interesting, and unexpected, political flap of the day is Hillary Clinton's decision to go on the offensive against Barack Obama, following an interesting exchange from last night's debate.

First, a little context. A questioner asked whether, "in the spirit of...bold leadership," the candidates would be willing to "meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?" Obama went first.
"I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous. (APPLAUSE)
"Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them."
Then the question went to Clinton.
"Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.
"I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.
"And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be." (APPLAUSE)
It was indicative of what we've seen a few times in these debates. Obama and Clinton both offered answers that were well received, but Obama spoke in general terms about broad themes, while Clinton focused on the details.

The surprising part, however, was Clinton's campaign going after Obama on this today.

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