CONCORD, N.H. (AP)— Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Saturday his public service experience trumps that of rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, and he tried to use her husband’s words to make his point. Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said his background as a community organizer, lawyer, professor and state senator is more valuable than Hillary Clinton’s experience “working the system” as first lady and in other roles.
In doing so, Obama tried to throw former President Clinton’s words back at him, quoting comments Bill Clinton made in a 1992 debate with the first President Bush. “The same old experience is not relevant. … And you can have the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience,” Clinton said at the time.
“He’s exactly right,” Obama said at a rally. “What we need to do is put an end to the wrong kind of experience.” Obama cited his success in helping to enact campaign finance reform as an Illinois legislator and an ethics overhaul while in the U.S. Senate. He said the nation does not need “the kind of experience that tinkers around the edges instead of doing something fundamental about how lobbyists operate in Washington.”
“We need the kind of experience that I think I bring to this race, of bringing people together to get things done,” he said. In a recent television interview, Bill Clinton was asked to compare questions about Obama’s experience with similar questions he faced when he ran for the White House in 1992. Clinton noted that he was governor of Arkansas at the time, when the major issue of the day was not a foreign war but restoring the economy. He said he was closer to Obama in experience in 1988, when he decided not to enter the presidential race.
“And I really didn’t think I knew enough, and had served enough and done enough to run,” he told Bloomberg Television. “That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t. That’s his decision.” A spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton’s campaign declined to respond to Obama other than to note that a half mile from where he spoke, more than 250 of her supporters attended a campaign organizing convention.