Obama Seeks to Close Gap in Ohio

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Campaigning in Ohio ahead of Tuesday's primary, Sen. Barack Obama responds to criticism that he's too inexperienced on foreign policy. Obama countered that Democratic contender Sen. Hillary Clinton's judgment is flawed, given her vote for the war in Iraq.

DON GONYEA: I'm Don Gonyea, traveling with the Obama campaign. Yesterday found the candidate at a high school gymnasium in the town of Westerville, Ohio, outside of Columbus.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. But most important, I think, for so many people here in Ohio, the dream that so many generations fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away.

GONYEA: This was the same town where Senator Hillary Clinton had been just a few hours earlier. Obama responded to criticism from Clinton that he's too inexperienced on foreign policy. Her campaign has been running an ad featuring a phone ringing in the White House at 3:00 a.m. It argues that she is the one with the experience to deal with a crisis. Obama counters that Clinton has already shown her flawed judgment by voting to give authority to go to war in Iraq.

Sen. OBAMA: To this day, she won't even admit that her vote was a mistake or that it was even a vote for war. So besides the decision to invade Iraq, we're still waiting to hear Senator Clinton tell us what precise foreign policy experience that she is claiming that makes her prepared to make that - to answer that phone call at three in the morning.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: Traveling with Senator Obama in Ohio yesterday was Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of neighboring West Virginia. Rockefeller is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and has served in the Senate for a generation. So the Obama camp regards his endorsement as a rebuttal to Clinton.

Rockefeller was asked about Clinton's admitted failure to read the classified National Intelligence estimate on Iraq prior to voting to authorize war. She says she was briefed on the document. Here's Senator Rockefeller.

Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER (Democrat, West Virginia; Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee): See, I don't really know what that means, but it's not the kind of the thing that you just get briefed on. I mean, the issue is deep enough so that you went and you did it.

GONYEA: Meanwhile, Obama wrapped up his final stop in Ohio before the primary with more talk of Clinton and her criticism that he gives great speeches but offers little in the way of specifics.

Sen. OBAMA: I think that the reason that we've done well is because people understand that the problem is not who's got the 10-point plan, because everybody's got a 10-point plan. The question is who can bring the country together so that we have a working majority to actually bring about change.

GONYEA: Then Obama headed home to Chicago for a night with his family, perhaps a sign that one more evening event in Ohio wouldn't be enough to make a difference in a state where he's been closing the gap but remains behind. Today, he has a full day of events in Texas, the state that may be his best chance to clear himself a path to the nomination. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Chicago.

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