On The Big Story, Ralph Reed repeated the false claim that Sen. Barack Obama "has said that he will embrace [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," a claim President Bush made recently on Fox News Sunday, which was not challenged by Chris Wallace. John Gibson did not rebut Reed's assertion.
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During the February 12 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, former Christian Coalition of America director and Republican strategist Ralph Reed repeated the false claim that "[Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] has said that he will embrace [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," which President Bush had made in an interview with Chris Wallace two days before. On the February 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Bush told host Chris Wallace: "I certainly don't know what he [Obama] believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad." While Wallace failed to challenge either false claims -- Obama did not say that "he's going to attack Pakistan" either -- Big Story host John Gibson similarly failed to challenge Reid's repetition of Bush's claim regarding Ahmadinejad.
Obama has not said he would "embrace Ahmadinejad," as Bush and Reed asserted. As a February 11 Washington Post article on Bush's comments reported: "Obama said he would be willing to meet with rogue leaders such as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to talk through differences, but he did not embrace him." Indeed, during the July 23, 2007, CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a participant asked the candidates:
QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we have the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.
While discussing Bush's comments on the February 11 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, commentator Jack Cafferty said of Wallace: "[T]he guy conducting the interview over there on the 'F' word network never called him [Bush] on it, never challenged him on it, never said he [Obama] didn't say he was going to embrace Ahmadinejad. He just let it go." After co-host Wolf Blitzer responded, "He said he'd have a direct dialogue with Ahmadinejad," Cafferty replied: "That's not embracing, that's having a meeting with him. There's a whole difference."
From the February 12 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with Gibson and Nauert:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (guest co-host): Well, Ralph, let's talk about some of the strengths as you see them for McCain. I mean, he has been around a lot longer than Barack Obama. He's had his name on a lot of numbers of legislation, some very controversial. But he is a man with credible experience. How is he going to strategically be able to shift the dialogue, as we approach the general election, to the issues that matter to this country and not just the personality of politics?
REED: Well, the first thing that John McCain is going to be doing, of course, is he's going to be beginning every day, praying that Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination. Because she starts off with 47 percent of the American people saying they're not going to vote for her under any circumstances. That's a race I'm sure he wants much more.
If you look at the AP/Ipsos poll, he's trailing Barack Obama by six in that poll, by eight in another poll, whereas he's essentially tied with Clinton. But if he does end up with Obama, I think you make the election about national security. You make it about experience. This is somebody who wants to raise taxes. He wants government-run health care.
Obama has said that he will embrace Ahmadinejad. He's said that he will begin an immediate and precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. And he said he would meet with [Cuban President Fidel] Castro in the first year of his administration with no preconditions whatsoever. I've got to tell you, that's not going to sell with Hispanic voters in South Florida.
And I think he's got a lot of other vulnerabilities as well. I think what you do if you're McCain and you do end up with Obama is kill him with kindness. Acknowledge that this guy is a star, that he's a great talent, and that he's articulate and eloquent. He's simply not ready to be president and his values are out of step with where the American people are.
JOHN GIBSON (co-host): We're going to have to leave it there. Ralph Reed, thanks a lot, and Steve McMahon. Thanks to our Republican strategist and Democratic strategist. See you guys later.