GREENSBURG, Pa. — Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he would return the country to the more "traditional" foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
At a town hall event at a local high school gymnasium, Obama praised George H.W. Bush _ father of the president _ for the way he handled the Persian Gulf War: with a large coalition and carefully defined objectives.
Obama began a six-day bus tour through Pennsylvania, the largest remaining primary prize in the contest with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Sen. John McCain is the Republican nominee-in-waiting.
"The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush's father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan, and it is George Bush that's been naive and it's people like John McCain and, unfortunately, some Democrats that have facilitated him acting in these naive ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation around the world," he said.
Obama faced criticism in January from Clinton and then-challenger John Edwards for saying Reagan had changed the trajectory of American politics _ and that Republicans had been the party of ideas for the last decade or more.
In one of the more heated moments of the Democratic debates, Clinton challenged him directly on the topic, saying those GOP ideas were "bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas."
In his speech Friday night, the Illinois senator charged that Clinton, for all her criticism of the current President Bush, has too often gone along with his decisions.
"I do think that Sen. Clinton would understand that George Bush's policies have failed, but in many ways she has been captive to the same politics that led her to vote for authorizing the war in Iraq," he said. "Since 9/11 the conventional wisdom has been that you've got to look tough on foreign policy by voting and acting like the Republicans, and I disagree with that."
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Obama "represents an absolute departure" from Reagan and other presidents "whose strength in the face of an outspoken and determined enemy won the greater peace for a generation."