AP uncritically quoted McCain attacking Obama over national security experience, economics

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

The Associated Press' Libby Quaid wrote that Sen. John McCain "dismissed Democratic rival Barack Obama as having zero national security experience," quoting McCain as saying that Obama "obviously has no national security experience, and therefore that's reflected in his judgment on a number of those issues." Quaid did not challenge McCain's accusation, nor did Quaid note that Obama has been involved in several bills and initiatives related to national security.

In a May 5 Associated Press article, reporter Libby Quaid wrote that Sen. John McCain "dismissed Democratic rival Barack Obama as having zero national security experience," before going to on to quote McCain as saying, "Senator Obama obviously has no national security experience, and therefore that's reflected in his judgment on a number of those issues." Quaid offered no challenge to McCain's accusation that Obama lacks national security experience. In fact, Obama -- a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- worked with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) on the "Lugar-Obama nonproliferation initiative" to secure unguarded weapons stockpiles in foreign countries -- which became law in January 2007 and for which the Senate Appropriations Committee provided $48 million in June 2007. Obama also introduced several bills related to national security, including The Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 2007 (S.1977), which would "provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology;" legislation that would have required the redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq; and, with Sens. Lugar and Tom Harkin (D-IA), a bill "[t]o promote the national security and stability of the economy of the United States by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the rise of alternative fuels and new technology."

Further, in January, Obama reportedly discussed Kenya's post-election violence with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and at her request taped a radio broadcast that aired throughout the country, urging "Kenya's leaders to call for calm, to come together, and to start a political process to address peacefully the controversies that divide them." During the conflict Obama also spoke with then-presidential candidate and opposition leader Raila Odinga and reached out to President Mwai Kibaki. In 2005, Obama also introduced legislation with Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Mike DeWine (R-OH), "to promote relief, security, and democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," which President Bush signed into law on December 22, 2006.

Noting a similar comment made by McCain on April 3, in which he said Obama "has no experience or background at all in national security affairs," a PolitiFact.com item evaluated McCain's claim and judged it to be "false," stating:

McCain is exaggerating, too. In his three years in the Senate, Obama has dealt with substantial issues such as nuclear proliferation as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and also participated in debates on the Senate floor and within the Democratic caucus on the war strategy.

The May 5 AP article, Quaid went on to report:

McCain, who also questioned Obama's credentials on the economy, was asked if he thought Obama had experience in any areas. Probably, McCain said, "I think on many issues, (but) certainly not on the level of mine."

But in writing that McCain "questioned Obama's credentials on the economy," Quaid failed to point out that McCain has cast doubt about his own "credentials on the economy." Indeed, as Media Matters for America documented, McCain was quoted in The Boston Globe and Time magazine as saying, "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got [former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan] Greenspan's book." Further, a November 26, 2005, Wall Street Journal interview quoted McCain as saying, "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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