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Clinton, Obama Question Each Other's National Security Credentials

Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are attacking each other on their foreign policy and national security credentials, as both candidates brace for a long and grueling battle for their party's presidential nomination. Senator Clinton met Thursday in Washington with a group of military leaders who are supporting her campaign to discuss Afghanistan and other national security challenges. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

Senator Barack Obama says his rival, Senator Clinton's "very negative attacks" played a role in Clinton's election wins earlier this week, wins which have pumped new life into her faltering campaign.

The 46-year-old senator from Illinois stressed that he still leads in the all-important overall delegate count, and targeted Senator Clinton's claim that she is more experienced on foreign policy because of her eight years in the White House as the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

"Was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense was 'No'," said Barack Obama.

On Thursday, Senator Clinton held a meeting with retired generals, admirals and other military officers in Washington, who said they are supporting her because of her foreign policy and national security experience. Clinton had words of praise for her Republican opponent, Senator John McCain for his national security and foreign policy credentials, but took a hard swing at Obama.

"Look I have said Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign, I will bring a lifetime of experience, and Senator Obama will bring a speech he made in 2002," said Hillary Clinton.

Clinton referred to a speech Obama made in 2002 opposing any U.S. invasion of Iraq. He often cites his opposition to the Iraq war as proof that his judgment on life and death security matters is better than Clinton's, who voted for a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Clinton told the military leaders if she is elected president, she would pay a lot more attention to Afghanistan, calling it the "forgotten frontline" in the war on terror.

"Today I am announcing a new strategy, one that is both smart and tough, that uses all of the tools in our arsenal to win the war in Afghanistan," she said. "We can no longer relegate Afghanistan to the bottom of our priority list."

Clinton said she would ask the United States' NATO allies to take greater responsibility for training the Afghan National Army, and hold a summit level meeting to revitalize international support for Afghanistan's long-term reconstruction. She said she would also end what she termed President Bush's "one dimensional" Pakistan policy.