Pubdate: Sun, 16 Dec 2007
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2007 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Jason Clayworth, Register Staff Writer


Waterloo, Ia. -- Barack Obama said today that he  doesn't believe
Americans see his teenage drug use as  relevant to his candidacy as

"I can't say how Americans think generally about it. I  do think that
the average American believes that what  somebody does when they were
a teenager 30 years ago is  probably not relevant to how they are
going to be  performing as commander in chief and president of the
United States," Obama said during a press conference.  "I think people
have pretty good judgment about that."

Obama has written about his use of drugs, including  cocaine, during
his teenage years. Earlier this week  William Shaheen, a co-chairman
of Hillary Clinton's New  Hampshire campaign, raised questions about
the drug  use, saying it could be used against Obama by  Republican
opponents if he were to win the Democratic  presidential nomination.

Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, apologized to  Obama and has
said she wasn't aware of Shaheen's  actions before the statement he
released. Shaheen  resigned Thursday.

"I reject completely the kind of line-crossing that  I've stood up
against," Clinton said Friday during the  taping of Iowa Public
Television's "Iowa Press" show.

Obama Saturday acknowledged the apology from Clinton  but declined to
characterize the tone of the discussion  they had Thursday when their
paths crossed in an  airport.

"I said I appreciated the apology," Obama said of the  discussion with
Clinton. "I suggested... that it was  important for us, as the heads
of our campaigns, to  make sure that we're sending a clear message
that this  is not the kind of tone that we should tolerate."

Obama also responded to hits against his lack of  experience. He was
specifically asked about former  President Bill Clinton's statements
Friday that his  wife is better prepared, saying that even "a gifted
television commentator" has just "one year less"  experience than
Obama, who began his presidential run a  year into his first term in
the U.S. Senate.

"Look, this is an argument that they've been making  during the
duration of this campaign," Obama said.  "Here is a quote: 'The same
old experience is  irrelevant. You can have the right kind of
experience  or the wrong kind of experience. Mine is rooted in the
real lives of real people and it will bring real  results if we have
the courage to change.' That was  Bill Clinton in 1992," Obama said,
noting that he has  been involved in government for more than a decade.
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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath