The Corner

Obama, Without Preconditions or Preparation

The McCain campaign is pointing out that it was one year ago today, during a Democratic debate, that Barack Obama was asked the famous would-you-meet-Ahmadinejad-without-preconditions question.  This was it:

QUESTION: In the spirit 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.

This morning, in Israel, Obama was asked whether he would still give the same answer.  His response:

I think that what I said in response was that I would at my time and choosing be willing to meet with any leader if I thought it would promote the national security interests of the United States of America. And that continues to be my position. That if I think that I can get a deal that is going to advance our cause, then I would consider that opportunity. But what I also said was that there is a difference between meeting without preconditions and meeting without preparation.

You can check out the transcript of the whole 2007 debate here.  Obama just didn’t talk about preparation.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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