Obama Says He’s Been Cleaning Up Bush’s Mess

On foreign policy, as on the economy, a finger pointed at his predecessor. posted on

Pool / Getty Images

A day after joking about blaming his predecessor for his problems, President Barack Obama did just that at a Virginia fundraiser with President Bill Clinton.

“Hillary and I have spent the last three and a half years cleaning up after other folks’ messes,” Obama told donors, referring to President George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

“We’re starting to get them pretty cleaned up,” he continued. “The war in Iraq is over. We’re transitioning in Afghanistan. We’ve got the strongest allies we’ve ever seen.”

The riff is likely to spark a fierce reaction from Mitt Romney, who has surrounded himself with many members of Bush’s foreign policy team. Romney has criticized Obama for “leading from behind” and “apologizing for America abroad” as part of his standard stump speech.

From the transcript:

But let me tell you — this one matters. This one matters. This one matters.

And that’s before we start talking about foreign policy. Hillary and I — we’ve spent the last three and a half years cleaning up after other folks’ messes. And by the way, we’ve got them — we’re starting to get them pretty cleaned up. The war in Iraq is over. We’re transitioning in Afghanistan. We’ve got the strongest allies we’ve ever seen. And al Qaeda is on the ropes. So we’ve done what we said we’d do.

The full pool report from the event is below:

Pool was led to back yard, where a stage is set up beneath white tent and crowd about 10 ft from stage. POTUS shared stage with President Clinton and Terry McAuliffe.

Va. dignitaries in attendance include former gov/Senate candidate Tim Kaine, Rep. Jim Moran and state Sen. Barbara Favola. Kaine stood directly behind pool and was heard enthusiastically agreeing throughout Clinton and Obama remarks.

Some highlights ahead of transcript:

-Clinton: POTUS has ‘got an opponent who basically wants to do what they did before — on steroids.’

-POTUS: ‘You guys get 2 presidents for one, which is a pretty good deal.’

-POTUS mocked Romney calling Russia, and not al Qaeda, the biggest enemy of the US. ‘I didn’t know we were back in 1975.’

-Pres. Clinton: ‘If you go back 500 years, whenever a country’s financial system collapses, it takes between five and 10 years to get back to full employment.’ POTUS, Clinton says, ‘is beating the clock, not behind it.’

-POTUS on foreign policy: ‘Hillary and I have spent the last three and a half years cleaning up after other folks’ messes.’

-POTUS refers to social debates happening across country. ‘You know something about that in Virginia,’ he tells crowd, referencing ‘nonsense that’s been going on.’

-POTUS jokes that Air Force One is one of the perks of being president, and that Pres Clinton misses it. ‘I’ll miss it too,’ he says. Woman in crowd shouts, ‘But not yet!’ drawing loud cheers.

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