From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
MILFORD, N.H. -- Clinton today said it was "silly" of Obama to ask why top foreign policy officials from her husband's administration were now supporting him, and said the campaign shouldn't be based on lists.
Clinton, after shaking some hands and posing for pictures with patrons of the River House Café, stopped to take questions from reporters and was asked to respond to Obama's claims of greater support from Clinton administration figures.
"Obviously we demonstrated that that wasn't accurate," Clinton said, alluding to a list produced by the campaign last night, which First Read reported on earlier. "But really that's not the point. You can have lists of people who are advising you but what matters is who's sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, and who's ready to be president on Day One."
Obama had asked rhetorically why "the national security advisor, the secretary of the navy for Bill Clinton, the assistant secretary of state for Bill Clinton" had endorsed him. "I just think that it's kind of a silly question," Clinton responded today. "I mean, honestly it's a silly question. We have hundreds of people's support. … This is not a campaign between lists of advisers. This is a campaign between real people with experience and qualifications to be president on Day One."
Clinton continued to emphasize that the real debate for voters should be which candidate, and not which policy team, was most qualified. "We cannot predict every challenge and every crisis that will come to the attention of our president, and therefore it's important to pick the person who can make the best decisions," she said. "When the door closes, and you're having to make those difficult decisions that presidents confront every day, ultimately there is no adviser you can count on. You have to make the decision and live with the consequences."
Obama had said the reason so many former Clinton advisers were backing him was based on his opposition to the Iraq war and the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Clinton countered that their records on Iraq are closer than Obama would have voters believe.
"He wasn't in the Congress at the time," she said, "and when he was running for the Senate, he said that he basically agreed with George Bush's policy and conduct of the war. When he came to the Senate he voted to support it. So I think that once you're in a position of responsibility and you actually have to be counted by what you do or what you look for, his record is the same as many of us."
Clinton added that based on her experience "during the previous administration" and on the Senate Armed Forces Committee that she is "in a very good position to withdraw our troops in a safe, responsible way, starting as soon as possible."
The Obama campaign responded to Clinton's comments in an e-mailed statement by again highlighting the Iran vote. "If Senator Clinton wants to make this election about who's made the best decisions on foreign policy, that's a comparison we're happy to make since Barack Obama is the only major candidate who opposed the war in Iraq and refused to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran."
The Milford stop was the second for Clinton today. After speaking with reporters, she went outside to greet a throng of supporters who had been pressing against the café's windows taking pictures. As she worked her way through the crowd, Clinton distributed candy canes and wished voters a merry Christmas.