Senators and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were forced to defend their no votes on the emergency war funding bill that passed the Senate Thursday night by a margin of 80-14. Both Democratic candidates have drawn heavy criticism from the three top GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Sen. John McCain. “At a time when the men and women of our military fighting terrorism around the globe needed them most, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cast a vote that singularly defines their lack of leadership and serves as a glaring example of an unrealistic and inexperienced worldview on national security that is regrettably shared by too many of their fellow Capitol Hill Democrats,” Romney said.  It should be noted that Romney has even less foreign policy experience than Clinton and Obama.

John McCain accused Clinton and Obama of surrendering to the enemy. “I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender by voting against funds to support our brave men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. This vote may win favor with MoveOn and liberal primary voters, but it’s the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda,” McCain said. In a later phone interview he asked, “What is Senator Obama and Senator Clinton’s ‘Plan B’ if we withdraw? What are their options if the withdrawal fails and we have chaos and genocide?” However, when reporters pressed McCain about his plan B, he admitted that he doesn’t have one. “We are examining many other plans and none of the options are good,” he said.

Giuliani accused Clinton and Obama of flip-flopping and said, “To switch positions like this and vote against supporting our troops shows that they are more and more in denial of the threat that exists,” Giuliani said. Giuliani’s criticism is the most valid. Until the last two votes, Obama has always said that he would never vote against cutting off funds to the troops in the field, and Clinton has been all over the place on Iraq from day one.

While on the stump in Illinois Obama said, “So let’s put aside the fear mongering and let’s put aside the rhetoric and let’s put aside the politics and let’s come together and … all of us support the troops. That’s our message to George George Bush. That’s our message to John McCain. That’s our message to Mitt Romney. That’s our message to Republicans in Congress.” Obama also said in a statement that Giuliani, McCain and Romney, “clearly believe the course we are on in Iraq is working, but I do not.”Clinton’s defense of her vote was much stronger than Obama’s. “I think it’s important for someone like me who’s been a strong supporter of the military and has worked hard to get our troops everything they need to start saying, ‘Look, the best thing we can do for them is to get them out of the middle of this sectarian civil war,’” she said.

Would it be so tough for both of these candidates to say, “We tried to negotiate, but the president wouldn’t so I am forced to change my position and take a stronger stand against this war.” A flip flop isn’t a flip flop if it can be justified as a change in position brought on by changing events. Both of these two left themselves wide open to criticism because they would not explain or defend their previous votes. One last point, I have noticed that Hillary and Obama are starting to vote the same way on a whole lot of issues. Could we be seeing the beginnings of a Hillary/Obama ticket?

Romney quotes

McCain statement

All other quotes from this AP story

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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