Obama Rebuffs Republican Attack on His Foreign Policy

(CBS)

From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

ROSEBURG, ORE. -- Barack Obama told Oregon voters today that George Bush and John McCain have to explain their "problem" with Kennedy, Reagan, and Nixon, as he continued to defend his support of direct diplomacy with rogue leaders.

"If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy, led by the President of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy, because that's what he did with Khrushchev, or Ronald Reagan, because that's what he did with Gorbachev, or Richard Nixon, because that's what he did with Mao," Obama said at small town hall meeting here.

He called the controversy surrounding President Bush's appearance at the Knesset yesterday a "foreign policy dust up," and described the comments made as "appalling". "A president, as a general rule, does not use a foreign country to make political attacks, we are supposed to be united when we leave our borders," Obama said. "We can have our differences here."

Obama linked McCain to Bush's foreign policy positions, portraying it a "so-called tough foreign policy" which he says the presumptive Republican nominee has embraced. He told the crowd to vote for McCain if they agree with those ideas. "If you agree that we've had a great foreign policy over the last four, eight years, then you should vote for John McCain, you shouldn't vote for me," Obama said.

In an e-mail statement to reporters, the McCain campaign accused Obama of "missing the point" of the debate. "Sen. Obama is missing the point, it's the 'unconditional' that's unacceptable. Barack Obama's pledge to unconditionally bring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the world stage isn't 'new politics,' it's incredibly weak judgment and reveals why Americans will elect John McCain's record of experience, and tested leadership. We are a nation rooted in a history of sacrifice and achievement, not in candidates who offer nothing but lofty rhetoric and campaign promises."