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Argument: Obama has flip-flopped on meeting with hostile foreign leaders

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"Republican National Committee: Obama's Rogue Anniversary - Obama Spends a Year Shifting His Position On Meeting With Rogue Leaders His First Year in Office". July 23rd, 2008. - SHIFT #1: Obama Tells The New York Times "I Didn't Say That I Would Meet Unconditionally," Even Though His Own Campaign Website States That Obama Is The Only Candidate Willing To Meet Without Preconditions:

In The New York Times, Obama Claimed "I Didn't Say That I Would Meet

Unconditionally." Obama: "I didn't say that I would meet unconditionally as John McCain maintained, because that would suggest whether it was useful or not, whether it was advancing our interests or not, I would just do it for the sake of doing it ... That's not a change in position, that's simply responding to distortions of my position." (Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, "Obama Seeks To Clarify His Disputed Comments On Diplomacy," The New York Times, 5/29/08)

Obama Campaign Website: "Obama Is The Only Major Candidate Who Supports

Tough, Direct Presidential Diplomacy With Iran Without Preconditions." "Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." (Obama For America Website,, Accessed 7/23/08)

SHIFT #2: Obama Said That He Would Not Necessarily Meet With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, After Long Saying He Would Meet Specifically With Ahmadinejad:

Obama Said He Would Not Necessarily Meet With Ahmadinejad. "Democratic

presidential candidate Barack Obama underscored his willingness to talk to leaders of countries like Iran that are considered U.S. adversaries but said that does not necessarily mean an audience with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." (Caren Bohan, "Obama Says Won't Guarantee Ahmadinejad A Meeting," Reuters, 5/26/08)

"'There's No Reason Why We Would Necessarily Meet With Ahmadinejad

Before We Know That He Was Actually In Power. He's Not The Most Powerful Person In Iran,' Obama Told Reporters While Campaigning In New Mexico." (Caren Bohan, "Obama Says Won't Guarantee Ahmadinejad A Meeting," Reuters, 5/26/08)

But At A September 2007 Press Conference, Obama Confirmed That He Would

Meet Specifically With Ahmadinejad. Question: "Senator, you've said before that you'd meet with President Ahmadinejad..." Obama: "Uh huh." Question: "Would you still meet with him today?" Obama: "Yeah, nothing's changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries. I find many of President Ahmadinejad's statements odious and I've said that repeatedly. And I think that we have to recognize that there are a lot of rogue nations in the world that don't have American interests at heart. But what I also believe is that, as John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate. And by us listening to the views even of those who we violently disagree with - that sends a signal to the world that we are going to turn the page on the failed diplomacy that the Bush Administration has practiced for so long." (Sen. Barack Obama, Press Conference, New York, NY, 9/24/07)

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SHIFT #3: Obama Said He Would Meet With Cuban President Raul Castro "At A Time" Of His Choosing, Even Though He Previously Said He Would Meet With Rogue Leaders During His First Year In Office:

Obama: "[I]t is time, I believe to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend

and foe alike, without preconditions. Now there must be, there must be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. As President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, but even more importantly to advance the cause of the freedom for the Cuban people." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At Campaign Event, Miami, FL, 5/23/08)

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But In November 2007, Obama Confirmed That He Would Meet With Rogue

Leaders, Including Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, His First Year In Office. NBC's Tim Russert: "In July, you were asked if you were willing to meet separately without pre-condition during your first year with Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez. You said yes. You stand by that?" Obama: "I do." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/11/07)

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SHIFT #4: An Obama Campaign Adviser Said That Obama Did Not Necessarily Say He Would Meet With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Even Though He Previously Said He Would:

An Obama Adviser Claims That "When Obama Referred To 'My Talks With

President Hugo Chavez,' He Did Not Mean 'My Talks,' Literally (Necessarily) -- He Meant His Administration's Talks." "As to the question of whether one can pledge to isolate a country while also proposing a presidential-level meeting, the adviser says that I was inaccurate in characterizing Obama as proposing such a meeting -- the reality was that Obama was merely acknowledging a willingness to meet. But 'if we are going to isolate the Venezuelans, it may be that we have to engage in a full-on diplomatic strategy with them,' the adviser says. Obama was not saying he, himself, would propose such a meeting, nor that he would necessarily participate in that meeting. When Obama referred to 'my talks with President Hugo Chavez,' he did not mean 'my talks,' literally (necessarily) -- he meant his administration's tal ks - 'though it could be him engaging in this diplomacy directly and personally,' the adviser says." (Jake Tapper, "What The FARC Was Obama Talking About?" ABC News' "Political Punch" Blog,, 5/27/08)

But Obama Told CBS' Harry Smith He Would Talk With Hugo Chavez Among

Others "Without Preconditions." CBS' Harry Smith: "You said, 'I will talk to so and so and Hugo Chavez and etc., etc.'" Obama: "Exactly, and without preconditions." (CBS' "The Early Show," 10/15/07)

Calvin Woodward. "Obama outreach to US foes questionable". May. 22, 2008

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