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Former White House adviser talks about foreign policy

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Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 12:00 am

Sen. Barack Obama may not have Sen. John McCain's military experience, but he has the right judgment when it comes to foreign policy, said Richard Clarke, former terrorism adviser in President Bill Clinton's administration, in a Tuesday visit to UF.

Clarke and Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, one of Obama's foreign policy advisers, spoke to a crowd of about 150 in the Reitz Union Auditorium in an event sponsored by Students for Barack Obama.

Addressing often-cited concerns about Obama's lack of foreign policy experience, Clarke pointed to major decisions made by the Democratic presidential candidate that, he said, prove Obama is ready to lead the country.

Clarke said Obama opposed the Iraq war even when the American people were for it. On the other hand, Clarke said, John McCain was a "cheerleader for invading Iraq."

Clarke praised Obama's stance on Afghanistan, saying Obama has long been in favor of increasing U.S. involvement in the country, while it has taken other leaders much longer to reach that conclusion.

Gration, who grew up in Africa and was a Republican until recently, said he went on a fact-finding tour through Africa in 2006 with Obama and saw firsthand what kind of a leader Obama could be.

Gration said when Obama met with Kenya's president, the senator confronted the president about the country's tribalism and corruption.

"He had the insight, the judgment and the courage to speak out," Gration said.

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