May 052008
Authors: Lib Quaid

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Republican John McCain on Monday dismissed Democratic rival Barack Obama as having zero national security experience.

Arriving in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential primary, McCain said there are stark differences between him and the two Democratic candidates, Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. But he concentrated on Obama in particular.

“Senator Obama wants to sit down with an Iranian leader who is dedicated to wiping Israel off the map – his words,” McCain told reporters on his campaign bus. “I don’t think we should give him that kind of prestige. “Senator Obama has obviously has no national security experience, and therefore that’s reflected in his judgment on a number of those issues.”

The Republican nominee-in-waiting spoke to the Chamber of Commerce and held three fundraisers. On Tuesday, he was speaking at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

McCain was referring to Obama’s comments last year that he would be willing to meet with leaders of rogue nations, such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba without conditions, an idea labeled naive and irresponsible by both McCain and Clinton.

Obama, in an effort to reassure Jewish voters about his candidacy, last month criticized former President Carter for meeting with leaders of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, saying, “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction.”

Yet Obama also said he’s willing to make diplomatic overtures to Iran even though it has funded Hamas and other militant groups.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor responded by criticizing McCain’s support for the war in Iraq.

“John McCain has the experience of being Washington’s biggest supporter of a disastrous war in Iraq,” the spokesman said.

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.”

“I think he’s done very well at fundraising,” McCain added.

Obama raised $41 million in March, twice as much as Clinton and nearly three times as much as McCain, according to the most recent reports.

McCain said Monday he did better raising money in April than in March, when he raised $15 million, but an aide said the campaign was not ready to release the numbers and stopped McCain from doing so himself.

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