Gore Mocks Bush, Quayle as Foreign Policy ‘Whizzes’
ATLANTA (AP) _ The Democrats counterattacked on Tuesday in the increasingly bitter political debate over foreign policy experience, with Al Gore declaring that if President Bush and Dan Quayle ″are such whizzes ... why is it that Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at the entire world.″
Former President Carter joined the assault, blaming Bush for the ″politicizing of foreign policy″ and saying it would be ″a travesty″ if Secretary of State James A. Baker III quit such a vital post to lead the president’s reelection campaign.
In contrast, the White House was all but silent on the issue, a day after Bush’s spokesman called a statement by Bill Clinton on possible use of force in Yugoslavia ″reckless″ and Bush-Quayle campaign aides attacked Clinton as lacking both ability and experience in foreign policy.
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater reiterated Bush’s appreciation of the Democratic presidential nominee’s general support on the Iraqi situation. Asked if the White House weren’t sending an inconsistent message, Fitzwater smiled and said, ″Nobody gets our blanket endorsements.″
Clinton took a verbal shot at Bush’s Monday suggestion that he alone had ″the experience, the seasoning, the guts″ to stand up to such foes as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Bush should show such qualities ″a little more consistently,″ Clinton said.
The Democratic presidential candidate, in Chicago for a campaign stop focusing on health care, dismissed the Bush campaign criticism as an effort to change the subject from domestic problems.
″You would expect them to say that with a failing economy,″ he said. ″All that talk about foreign policy - there is a limit to how strong we can be abroad if we’re not strong at home.″
Gore, appearing in Atlanta alongside Carter, accused the Bush administration of focusing on foreign policy to the detriment of domestic matters - and still failing to dislodge Saddam.
Although Americans do have concerns about world affairs, he said, ″the dominant issue in this campaign is going to be how we’re going to get our country moving forward.″
Carter, too, said the ″recent success″ of Saddam in his nation’s standoff with the United Nations over military inspections ″doesn’t show to me any particular advantage to having experience in the White House.″
The former president, during a news conference at the Carter Library, said, ″One thing that concerns me very deeply is the politicizing of foreign policy.″
About Baker’s possible move, Carter said it would be ″a very sad day and an unacceptable precedent if the secretary of state does step down from his role and assumes the role of political campaign manager.″
″This has never been done in the history of our country,″ Carter said. ″I think it is indicative of the superficiality with which foreign policy issues in this campaign are likely to be addressed.″
Later, at a rally in Charlotte, N.C., Gore said that when ″the wealthy privileged few in this country″ call the White House asking help, ″Bush and Quayle move heaven and earth to do whatever it is they want them to do.″
″When average families call they White House and say, ‘We need something done for us,’ they get a busy signal,″ Gore told a partisan, sign-waving crowd on a plaza in Charlotte’s downtown financial center.