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Clark: Getting 'shot down in plane' doesn't make McCain qualified

  • Story Highlights
  • Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark questions John McCain's executive experience
  • In "Face the Nation" interview, Clark says McCain hasn't "ordered the bombs to fall"
  • McCain campaign calls for Barack Obama to condemn the comments
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(CNN) -- Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on Sunday questioned whether Sen. John McCain's military experience qualified him to be commander-in-chief.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, questioned John McCain's qualifications Sunday.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, questioned John McCain's qualifications Sunday.

The McCain campaign called for Obama to condemn the remarks.

The dust-up began with Clark's appearance Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," where moderator Bob Schieffer asked him about his interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month.

In the interview, Clark said McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, was "untested and untried."

When Schieffer asked to explain the comment, Clark said he was referring to McCain's experience, or lack thereof, in setting national security policies and understanding the risk involved in such matters.

"I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility," said Clark, a former NATO commander who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

"He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not," Clark said.

Schieffer noted that Obama did not have any of those experiences, nor had he "ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down."

"Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Clark said.

In a statement released by the McCain campaign Sunday afternoon, retired Admiral Leighton "Snuffy" Smith criticized Clark's comment.

"If Barack Obama wants to question John McCain's service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates," Smith said.

"If he expects the American people to believe his pledges about a new kind of politics, Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks."

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