July 27th, 2007
10:47 AM ET
7 years ago

Clinton calls Bush-Cheney comparison 'silly'

Watch Clinton’s latest comments on her spat with Obama, only on CNN.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton sharply dismissed Thursday a recent suggestion from chief rival Barack Obama that she is “Bush-Cheney light,” telling CNN the comparison is “silly.”

“You know, I have been called a lot of things in my life, but I have never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney certainly,” Clinton told CNN’s John King.

“You know you have to ask whatever has happened to the politics of hope,” Clinton added, in reference to the Illinois Democrat's familiar campaign theme.

The two leading Democratic presidential contenders have been locked in a war of words following the CNN/YouTube debate Monday, when Obama said he would be willing to meet with controversial world leaders during his first year in office. Clinton, in response to the same question, said she would only meet with such leaders after a set of preconditions.

“I don't want to see the power and prestige of the United States president put at risk by rushing into meetings with the likes of [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez and [Cuban president Fidel] Castro and [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad,” Clinton told CNN Thursday. “I think we have to be absolutely clear that we are going to engage with the world, that we are not afraid to have diplomacy.”

The New York Democrat also brushed aside suggestions the Democratic primary race was getting overly negative too early.

“I think that we do have some disagreements, and those are obviously going to start coming out because this is a very intense period, for the primaries,” she said. “But I welcome that debate, because I think that we want Democratic voters to get to know as much about each of us as possible, to know where we stand on issues, how we would approach the important concerns we'll face if we are president.”

Defending his debate answer earlier Thursday, Obama said, “I’m not afraid to lose the P.R. war to dictators. I’m happy to look them in the eyes and say what needs to be said… I don’t want Bush-Cheney light.”

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King contributed to this report

soundoff (278 Responses)
  1. Twinner Rutland VT

    We are in a nasty war, illegal immigrants are sneaking across the border at the rate or 4500 per day (16 percent of whom are escaped felons) and no one is stopping them, we have record national debt, schools are a mess, our healthy food supply chain collapsing, many wounded returning veterans have trouble getting proper medical attention etc etc etc etc. And this silly name calling is what politics is reduced to today? Is there an adult anywhere in the political system that can address the real issues effectively?

    July 26, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. Tommy,Atlanta

    Obama clearly demostrated his inexperience by his answer.Hate or loathe Hillary:she is intelligent,smart and experienced.Comparing any democrat to Bush or Cheney is repugnant to all common sense.Wait for your time:Barrack!

    July 26, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Michel, Los Angeles, CA.

    Obama is a neophyte – four years in the senate elected in a district where all they watch on TV is Oprah and now his first time on the national stage making a complete fool of himself. So he’s the expert of foreign policy ??-Obama is like George Bush –no experience and now we see his arrogance. Wasn’t he being tutored in a private class in foreign policy just before the campaign? This guty is history.

    July 26, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. Marissa Russo - Atlanta, GA

    Although I think Clinton and Obama are both respectable democratic candidates, I can't help but be frustrated that CNN and many other big news sources have published numerous articles on the two of them and have published close to nothing about the other candidates. Especially Kucinich, who in my opinion won the CNN/YouTube debate. They may be the most controversial democratic candidates, but that doesn't mean they are the best. I wish that CNN and other influential news sources would do a better job of keeping the public (the potential voters), informed and include more coverage of the other candidates.

    July 26, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Michele Portland, oregon

    well this is interesting: St. Hilary chastizing Mr. Obama. This after the woman did her research and first flung mud on his muslim background. Seems she can dish it, but can't take it. Par for the course, I would say. . .

    July 26, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Ratna, New York, NY

    I totally agree with Hillary Clinton. It would weaken the United States president and government status when it comes to meetings with Chaves, Castro and Ahmedinejad.

    South-American world-politics is very divided. There are South- & Central-American and Caribean governments on the opposing the Cuban take-over, for example: Greneda.

    And then is the issue of drug trafficking...which I am sure the Pentagon has investigating for the past few years.

    Ahmedinejad is taking off where the former Libyan dictator has left off back inthe 80's. The only difference is that there were no continued alliances between Cuban and Libya's Gaddafi. Ahmedinejad will be taking a step further. I predict that.

    July 26, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Neil, Phoenix, AZ

    In the midst of this bickering about who's being "silly" and whether Democrats should be fighting each other, has anyone considered the tiny little fact that Obama is RIGHT?

    He is right on whether to talk to our enemies, just as Reagan did. He is right about the war (and by the way he is on record as opposing the war pre-2003 even though he was not a US senator at the time; look it up on Youtube). And he is right to call out Hillary Clinton for kowtowing to the Bush-Cheney war, failing to oppose it when she should have, refusing to admit she made a mistake by doing so, and refusing to apologize.

    It's an outrage that Democrats are seriously considering nominating her at all.

    July 26, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Diane, Aiken SC

    Personally, I think it's very sad to have two great leaders such as Hillary and Barrack putting each other down. As voters, I believe people want to know that whomever wins the democratic primary would make a great president. I'm not naive, I know that they both want to win, but all of this negativity is just childish and immature. They don't have to agree on everything, but they should each respect the others stand regardless of their personal opinions.

    July 26, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Rob, San Diego CA

    Dear Anotnio,

    If you want to see disgace and shame in the white House just take a gander at it's current residents. I'd take Clinton over the our trained monkey Bush and Dick(tator) Cheney any day of the week.

    July 26, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Walker, Montgomery, AL

    I think that most people aren't worried about talking with authoritarian regimes or dictators so much as they are about concessions or collaboration with oppressive governments. I admit that I was taken aback by Sen. Obama's comment, but U.S. presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and others have spoken with the leaders of such governments directly. The worry is that the senator's approach would be reconciling the United States with foreign governments without keeping U.S. interests paramount. Sen. Clinton is most likely right that certain parameters are necessary for dialogue, but Sen. Obama is not making as bold of a statement as it sounds.

    July 26, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Voting for Clinton or Obama is SILLY. Ron Paul in '08

    July 26, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. CW Montgomery, AL

    Last thing I'll say about this is that I am also peeved by Clinton's condescending language describing Obama's approach: "irresponsible," "naive" and "silly." Obama raised serious issues addressing her foreign policy approach, and she has yet to explain her position. I seriously doubt primary voters will let this go unnoticed.

    July 26, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Allan Toh, Honolulu, Hawaii

    Thank you, Dave of Milwaukee, would that all Americans were as reasoned and intelligent as you. We would have had a President John Kerry and this mess we're in today would not have occurred, I have no doubt. And Osama would have been killed or captured by now.
    Hillary or Obama, 2 great choices. And this time, let's not waste our votes on 3rd-party spoilers and give it to the conservatives.

    July 26, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. L. Doren

    Obama is a bummer man and sounding like a loser. Hillary is looking better by the day.

    July 26, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. John Wilson, Racine, WI

    How soon we see the politics of HOPE turn into the politics of POKE! It is always nice to seen a totally outclassed candidate abandon his HIGH GROUND the first time he puts both feet in his mouth and is call on it.
    Mr. Obama belongs in a Evangelical Church, preaching God to the poor, less educated, and less enlightened who just might listen to his insanely sophmoric rants...
    We have REAL problems that require REAL people to provide REAL solutions. Misguided, uninformed, naive Bible-thumpers need not apply...

    July 26, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. mountain man Longmont, CO

    Obama is desperate to try and take Hillary down that is why he attacked her and called her Bush-lite. That is just crazy Hillary has been on the fore front of liberal politics her whole life. It's sad Obama gave up his no negative pledge so early in the campaign.

    July 26, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Pilar Patterson-Kling, Long Beach, CA

    After reading Mr. Obama's quote, he did not reference Hillary Clinton at all! Instead, I understood his comment entirely differently than CNN. This is the second time recently that CNN has misled readers with a characterization. The first time was the CNN characterization of Elizabeth Edwards' comment regarding her husband as being more of a "advocate for women" than Hillary Clinton. Again, after reading the quote, Mrs. Edwards did not appear to say anything against Hillary Clinton but was referencing her husband's contributions.
    Your headlines are becoming more sensational and less journalistic.

    July 26, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. Randy, VA

    Clinton is too polictically savey for Obama. Obama doesn't have a clue about dealing with international relations. I wouldn't let him run mu business not alone the country. Clinton on the other hand cannot be trusted. So these are the Democrate's best? Good luck!

    July 26, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I think in the current debate that Senator Clinton is right.

    Diplomacy is important, and it has been neglected far too long.

    However, this constant battering of her vote on the war is ridiculous. Does anyone remember the atmosphere in this country at the time the vote was taken? I did not support the war but I remember that a majority of Americans, and a mjority of the Congress did.

    And please, for the last time, Senator Obama DID NOT VOTE AGAINST THE WAR. He wasn't a Senator then, and did not have a vote to cast.

    July 26, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. André, Seattle, WA

    The majority of you people are carrying on as if, because CNN has entitled the previous ticker "Obama calls Clinton 'Bush-Cheney Lite'" that it is true.

    If you read that article you will see that Obama's statements do not directly reflect the article's title. He didn't actually say that she was anything – or at least the article doesn't reveal this.

    This is an example of poor reporting or or editing by the CNN staff. If you allow some nonsense squabble like this determine your view of either candidates – it is my opinion that you have judged too soon.

    Monday was a glorious day for democratic supporters – we saw at least 3 really strong candidates (my third is not Edwards). Obama's statement was simply meant to suggest that he will not run from the issues abroad.

    I'm not sure that a statement like that should be considered "touch of death" for anyone's candidacy.

    Just my opinion

    July 26, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Sean, Charlotte, NC

    Did Hillary just say she doesn’t want to see the “power and prestige of the United States Presidency put at risk?” So how exactly does she characterize Bill Clinton’s use of the Presidency to get women?

    Obama is right.

    And whichever staffer thought of “Bush-Cheney light” deserves a raise.

    July 26, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. L.M., Ardmore, Oklahoma

    Don't get sidetracked by the spinmiesters abounding here. The question was would you be willing to meet with Syria, Iran and Venezuela leaders in your first year in office. Everyone who can read concedes that Obama said "yes." From there it goes into spin territory. Did Hillary say, what Hillary meant, what Hillary tried to explain.......If we have to explain her answer for her, that sure sounds like "Bushlight" to me. Been there, done that; eight years now. No more, please. And today? Hillary says the president shouldn't meet with Castro, Chavez, or Ahmadinejad. One question: which one of those was Syria? Remember the original question? Doesn't that sound familiar? Another Bushism? HRC, maybe you better get used to being called Bushlight; sounds like you are earning it.

    July 26, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. donna seattle wa

    Hillary Clinton and the Dangers of Hubris
    Are the Democrats set to give us another imperial president?

    Steve Chapman | July 26, 2007

    During the Democratic debate in South Carolina, I heard something I never expected to hear: Hillary Clinton coming out against U.S. military intervention.

    At least I think she was coming out against U.S. military intervention. Asked if U.S. troops should be sent to Darfur, the New York senator made a valiant effort to dodge the question by declaiming about sanctions, divestment and UN peacekeepers. But when pressed, "How about American troops on the ground?" she finally said, a bit awkwardly, "American ground troops I don't think belong in Darfur at this time."

    But don't bet that she'll stick to that position if she's elected. It goes against type. Clinton favored intervention in Haiti in 1994. She favored intervention in Bosnia in 1995. She favored intervention in Kosovo in 1999. As first lady, Clinton said, "I am very pleased that this president and administration have made democracy one of the centerpieces of our foreign policy." Before the Kosovo war, she phoned Bill from Africa and, she recalled later, "I urged him to bomb."

    Among her critics, Clinton is known for a mother-knows-best domestic policy that relies on overbearing interference from Washington to remake the landscape to her specifications.

    Democrats hope that when it comes to international affairs, Clinton would represent a big change from George W. Bush. Republicans harbor that fear. In truth, this is one realm where the two are more alike than different. It's no accident that she voted for the resolution authorizing the president to invade Iraq. And it's no mystery that she was slow to admit the war was failing.

    She didn't support the war because she was hoodwinked by Bush. She didn't do it for strictly political reasons. She supported it because of her conception of America's proper role in the world—which combines a thirst for altruistic missions with a faith in the value of military force to get what you want. Those same impulses, of course, motivated the neoconservatives who urged Bush to go into Iraq.

    On the morning after the South Carolina debate, the Clinton campaign trotted out former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to gush about the senator's declaration that she would not meet with various dictators "until we know better what the way forward would be." Said Albright, "She gave a very sophisticated answer that showed her understanding of the diplomatic process."

    Being praised for your diplomatic sophistication by Madeleine Albright is like being complimented on your sense of humor by John Kerry. Albright is the renowned diplomat who helped the Clinton administration blunder its way into an 11-week aerial war in Kosovo. Albright was confident that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would cave at the first whiff of gunpowder, and was shocked when he didn't.

    That misjudgment had disastrous consequences. The Serbs responded not by capitulating but by greatly escalating their war on Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. Some 10,000 of them died, and more than a million were forced from their homes. If the war was a success, it was a very mixed one. The same could be said about Bosnia and Haiti, where the results fell far short of our intentions.
    Like Iraq, the Kosovo war demonstrated the folly of taking military action without preparing for the worst. Both also showed the dangers of unchecked hubris.

    But those are not lessons Clinton has necessarily absorbed. When she ran for the Senate in 2000, she mocked Republicans (such as Caspar Weinberger and Colin Powell) who think "we should intervene with force only when we face splendid little wars that we surely can win, preferably by overwhelming force in a relatively short period of time." On the contrary, she said, we "should not ever shy away from the hard task if it is the right one."

    As Michael Crowley of The New Republic has noted, she had another reason for supporting Bush on Iraq. "I'm a strong believer in executive authority," she said in 2003. "I wish that, when my husband was president, people in Congress had been more willing to recognize presidential authority."

    There you have it. A Hillary Clinton presidency promises to unite Madeleine Albright's zeal for using bombs in pursuit of liberal ideals with Dick Cheney's vision of the president as emperor. Won't that be fun?


    July 26, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. John, Englewood, NJ

    Obama 08'
    -Stop corrupt politics. Hilary Clinton voted for the war because shes irresponsible. Obama has always denied it and said that it would only strengthen Al Queada. He hit the nail on that prediction! vote for Obama, Clinton doesnt know whats morally right.

    July 26, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. Jim Wallace Illinois

    Obama hit it right on the head! The biggest puzzle to me during the Clinton years was why the Republicans hated him so much, when it seemed to me he was a Republican in sheep's clothing! He was for NAFTA and Welfare reform and the "World Market", he balanced the budget, a lot of GOP priorities!

    July 26, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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