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John McCain, Barack Obama attack each other on the basics

April 1, 2008 |  3:37 pm

Hillary Clinton may be casting herself as Rocky Balboa (will that comparison ever wear out its welcome for candidates campaigning in Philadelphia?), but both Barack Obama and John McCain more and more seem to be counting her out.

That's because more and more, they're spending their time bashing one another. And to hear each tell it, their prospective foe in the general election isn't just misbegotten, he's lacking in basic skills.

Responding to Obama's continuing criticism of McCain's call for a sustained U.S. commitment to Iraq, the presumptive Republican nominee made news Monday by snapping: "In all due respect, it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of history, of how we've maintained national security, and what we need to do in the future to maintain our security in the face of the transcendent challenge of radical Islamic extremism."

In case his point was missed, he added, "And I understand that, because he has no experience or background" in foreign policy.

Today, it was Obama's turn to raise competency questions.

As Times reporter Peter Nicholas relates, Obama at a gathering in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., noted that McCain "a few weeks ago ... said, and I'm quoting here: 'The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should.'

"And that's clear, since all he's offering is four more years of the same George W. Bush policies that have gotten us into the pickle that we're in right now."

Sounds like we could be headed for a fall campaign in which, at some point, the political equivalent of an SAT test might be in order.

-- Don Frederick

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