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Biden: McCain Is "Dangerously Wrong"

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(CINCINNATI) - Joe Biden tackled the broad spectrum of national security today, saying the Democratic ticket would offer more "hard-headed" diplomacy with allies in dealing with countries like Iran and calling John McCain "dangerously wrong" in his views on terrorism, the war in Iraq, and foreign relations.

Appearing in the cavernous dome of Union Station, Biden attempted to drive the Obama campaign's message that a McCain presidency would carry on the same type of foreign policy under the Bush Administration.

"After 9/11, the President of the United States of America had an incredible opportunity. He had an opportunity to join America and the rest of the world in common cause," said Biden, speaking in the same spot where Bush made a televised case against Saddam Hussein in 2002.

"But instead, instead by starting a war of choice in Iraq before winning the war of necessity in Afghanistan, the President of the United States by imposing torture, detention, eavesdropping that defy our values and endanger our national security."

"By showing disdain to our allies and empty bluster to our enemies, President Bush divided America, divided the world instead of, instead of uniting us."

Biden accused McCain of the same blustering and fixation on Iraq, and insisted the central war on terrorism was not in Iraq, but rather in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"On this, John is more than wrong. He is dangerously wrong."

"We need more than a great soldier," said Biden, referring to McCain's military service. "We need a wise leader, and that leader is Barack Obama."

Biden promised that he and Obama would support the U.S. military in targeting and killing terrorists within Pakistan and Afghanistan's borders, including members of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Biden's nearly hour-long speech touched on parts of the world including the Middle East, Russia, and Eastern Asia, making numerous references to the threats of terrorism.

Although the United States has not been attacked by terrorists on domestic soil since 2001, Biden warned Americans against having a false sense of security.

The speech came on the second day of Sarah Palin's meetings with foreign leaders in New York. While Palin says very little publicly and kept away from the press, Biden expounded on his prepared remarks and made detailed points regarding regional conflicts.

"The enemy is patient. In just the past week, Al Qaeda affiliates have struck the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and, and at the same time blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Every major terrorist attack in the past eight years, every one can be traced back to the Afghani-Pakistani border, including the attacks in Madrid and in London in 2006. The British and the Pakistani police prevented a major new attack on our own planes and our own people emanating from the same territory," said Biden.

"So much for the Bush-McCain claim that we're fighting them in Iraq so they won't attacks us over here."

Biden addressed the crowd of capacity-filled crowd of 900 supporters as "ladies and gentlemen" (he said the phrase 52 times) as he delivered contrasts on the Republican and Democratic front-runners' views of Iran.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama has been absolutely clear about one other item. Iran poses a genuine challenge to the security of the United States and Israel and our allies. Under the policies that George Bush has pursued though, and John McCain has supported, would continue in Iran. It's not freedom that has been on the march in Middle East -- it's been Iran that has been on the march in the Middle East. Ladies and gentlemen, this about where this policy has taken us so far. The influence of Iran has increased greatly. They're closer to a bomb. They are expanding their influence in Iraq. They're expanding influence over their proxies -- Hezbollah and Lebanon. And now its ally Hamas now controls the Gaza strip and is now bombing Israel from the Gaza Strip. These are not the results of successful Iranian policy. These are results of a misplaced policy."

"Beyond bluster, what would John McCain actually do to meet with these dangers? Well, if you ask, he doesn't say what he'd do other than bluster."

Biden labeled McCain's foreign policy with Iran as saber-rattling, calling it "the most self-defeating policy I can imagine."

"Ladies and gentlemen, what does it do, when the saber is rattled? It forces the Iranian people who hate their government to unite behind their government. It takes away the voices of the moderate forces in Iran. And what else does it do? It generates a sense of instability in the Middle East, and what happens? Oil prices spike, and we put billions upon billions of more dollars out of the wallets of Americans and into the pocket of Ahmadinejad and the very people we say, the very people we say are our greatest problem."

"Ladies and gentlemen, the worst nightmare for this divided Iranian leadership, the worst nightmare for this regime that thrives on isolation and on tension is an America, ready, willing and able to engage them."

The senator questioned why it there was worry about meeting with "our enemies" when there is the ability to say "No" to their demands.

Biden took more than one swipe at President Bush, saying that Barack Obama knows that looking into a leader's eyes is not looking into their soul – an obvious jab at comments Bush made after meeting with Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's amazing, it's amazing how little faith John McCain has in himself and his foreign policy team that they're afraid to sit down."

Biden argued that Barack Obama "understands that strength and wisdom go hand in hand."

"Barack Obama understands that America will not only lead, but must lead by the power of our example and not just by the example of our power. And ladies and gentlemen, that is the only leadership -- when others join us in the struggle for freedom. People talk - the president talks about leadership, John talks about leadership. Barack's response is, it's only leadership when other countries join us, when other countries join us in the fight for freedom, the fight for justice, the fight for prosperity, the fight for progress. Barack Obama will keep American citizens safe. He will keep our country secure. And he will answer the yearning, at home and around the world, for an American foreign policy that is once again as good and strong as the American people, because we are."

He ended his speech by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is ready to be Commander in Chief of the United States of America."

Interestingly, the McCain campaign sent out a response to Biden's speech, but did so before Biden had even spoken.

"Joe Biden, the Senator turned salesman, has gone through so many transformations on Iraq that he is no longer a relevant or credible voice. Just a short while ago Biden questioned Obama's judgment and leadership on Iraq accusing him of 'cutting off support that will save the lives of thousands of American troops' when he voted against funding our military," wrote McCain spokesman Ben Porritt.

"Now in chameleon like fashion he has blended his beliefs to fit Barack Obama who has attempted to legislate failure in Iraq and believes that success in Afghanistan is only possible through defeat in Iraq. Barack Obama's notion to override our generals on the ground in a push for unconditional withdraw in Iraq is the ultimate display of politics and poor judgment," said Porritt.