U.S. News

Obama says Clinton showed lack of judgment on Iraq

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks during a town hall meeting at the Community College of Beaver County in Monaca, Pennsylvania, March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Cohn

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday said his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had shown a lack of judgment when she voted in 2002 to authorize the Iraq war.

In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Obama said Clinton talks tough on national security but the vote contributed to the error President George W. Bush made in launching a war that has made America less safe.

“Here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country -- a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions,” Obama said in a speech in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Obama is vying with Clinton to face Republican Sen. John McCain in the November election.

Obama underscored a vow to end the war and said his early opposition to the war showed he was best placed to make a “clean break” from the Republican approach on Iraq.

And he likened Clinton’s approach to that of McCain.

“Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a ‘commander in chief test’ -- not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington,” Obama said.

“The way to win a debate with John McCain is not to talk, and act, and vote like him on national security, because then we all lose. The way to win that debate and to keep America safe is to offer a clear contrast, and that’s what I will do,” he said.

Reporting by Caren Bohan, editing by Lori Santos