August 20th, 2007
03:05 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton, McCain offer different views on Iraq

Watch Clinton address the VFW convention Monday.

(CNN) - On the first day of the national Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City, Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain offered widely differing views on the Iraq War.

The two presidential candidates addressed the same audience of veterans - and both received applause.

“I think that it’s unacceptable for our troops to be caught in the crossfire of a sectarian civil war while the Iraqi government is on vacation,” said Clinton, a New York Democrat. She said that the best way to honor the service of U.S. troops would be to bring them home.

McCain, whom Clinton honored for his service in Vietnam and noted their travels in Iraq and Afghanistan, cautioned against such a withdrawal. (Watch McCain address the VFW forum)

“To concede defeat now would strengthen al Qaeda, empower Iran and other hostile powers in the Middle East, and unleash a full-scaled civil war in Iraq,” said McCain, an Arizona Republican. “Our defeat in Iraq would be catastrophic, not for Iraq, but for us. And I can not be complicit in it…We need to show greater patience.”

Full story

- CNN Political Desk Editor Mark Norman

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John McCain
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    McCain remains out of touch with America and the rest of planet Earth.

    August 20, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Karen, Orlando, Fl.

    McCain is paying the price for his 'stay the course' strategy and his alliance to Bush. This will be one of the main reasons that he will not win the party nod. That being said, Hillary also supported this war and she will have some explaining to do as well.

    August 20, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. lavelle

    wait so when did the war start up again? when bush flew in that bomber for his photo op! when did the war start again?

    August 20, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Aaron, Bondurant, IA

    Actually, neither of them would remove the troops... in fact, none of the 'top-tier' Democrats would end the war, and yet they're 'top-tier'? Also, only 1 Republican would get us out of this mess, and I think he, Ron Paul, is coming on pretty strong lately. Funny how 85% of the candidates in both the big parties, and 100% of the 'top-tier' candidates are all going to go against the 70% of Americans wants and continue this war of aggression. No wonder most Americans don't vote; it doesn't matter!

    August 20, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Daniel SLC UT

    It's time for McCain to put his tail between his legs and walk away very ashamed of himself and all other republicans.

    If you care so much about Iraq move to Iraq.

    August 20, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Susan, Fort Pierce, Florida

    I would vote for Clinton over McCain any day. McCain is out of touch with the American People

    August 20, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Michael James -- Illinois

    Iraq is a case study on the kind of decision-making a president faces - serious consequences at stake, imperfect information, and passionate voices on both sides. Barack had the foresight to know that it was a bad move. That kind of judgment and foresight is what I want in my President. Highly preferable to looking at it in hindsight and saying "if I knew then what I know now..." as Ms. Clinton has done.

    Barack has the same general information a lot of us did and he chose wisely, despite the prevailing political winds at the time. Hillary didn't even bother to read the entire National Intelligence Estimate.

    Hasn't her "experience" taught her that you need to read the fine print? There are used care salespeople dreaming about the kind of naivete displayed by Ms. Clinton.

    I will take Barack Obama's considered and demonstrated good judgment over "experienced" people like Clinton every time.

    August 20, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. erika morgan black dimond wa

    Unfortunately McCain learned the wrong lesson from his time at the "Hanoi Hilton" The abuse he suffered there, and the rise of reasonable government there after we finally were forced to leave them alone, was supposed to teach him not to meddle in the business of others. Instead he thinks something could happen in Iraq that would allow America to beat its collective breast with the pride of might. There is NOTHING to be gained by playing the bully, only with humility and kindness toward would-be enemies is real strength realized.

    August 20, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. HomeoftheBrave

    As usual, Clinton is talking out of both sides of her mouth.

    “I think that it’s unacceptable for our troops to be caught in the crossfire of a sectarian civil war while the Iraqi government is on vacation,”

    "the best way to honor the service of U.S. troops would be to bring them home."

    These are talking points that everyone can agree on.., quite two-faced.

    August 20, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Danny G, Boca Raton FL

    Sen. Obama was not even a senator when the vote occur, the vote was a symbol and a challenge by the Republicans to shame any democrat that would vote against it as "un-patriotic", and it had a good faith basis where the white house PROMISED to use all diplomatic means to resolve the conflict, based on all of those pressures and assurances a lot of Democrats did what they truly thought would give their president the most leverage. This president has accepted full responsibility for this war and with that I also believe he shares in the blame for violating the trust placed on him by congress and the American people, Sen. Clinton I feel would not violate that trust, she has worked her whole life trying to build up her good name and I for one am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Obama in my opinion is just not ready for this responsibility since I fail to see and exit strategy that would be implemented soon after ANY Democrat or Republican is in office. McCain also is not ready and I see is as doubtful he would even get the GOP's nomination.

    Both Sen. Clinton and Obama Deserve a lot of respect for going and speacking to our veterans, I for one will tell you that I don't care which party affiliation you may identify with as long as you recognize the men and women in uniform that have risk their lifes to protect our way of life you in my book are a patriot and you should be proud.

    August 20, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Oh, pleeaaassee!!! Obama keeps harping on how he didn't vote for the war without mentioning that he didn't get into the US senate until 2005!!! Who knows how he would have voted if he had been in the US senate in 2002?? Hindsight is 20/20......

    August 20, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. finance of a soldier, Newark DE

    To aaron,

    I must say I am disappointed. I don't think 70% of America know very much about foreign policy so I am glad to hear the candidates are not just catering to polling numbers. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe there is more to the story then we know and perhaps that is why these candidates are careful about what they are saying. Being a good president means knowing not to commit before you are given all the information and any single person who says flat out they would pull out the troops does not, in my opinion, have the leadership and intellect to be president. I don't trust any candidate who only bases their platform on what polls well.

    August 20, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    Both McCain and Clinton were RIGHT ON in support of the Veterans. McCain is 100% correct in the Glory of War is not in the experience. Clinton and McCain agree on taking care of our Veterans. We need to work even harder for PEACE as we do for War. Destroying things, getting Angry is easy. Peace is hard. 🙂

    We had a military victory in Iraq—securing the Peace is a hard thing to do.

    Healing the all the Vets—that’s our responsibility—body, mind and spirit.

    August 20, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Eric, Salt Lake City Utah

    Neither is a war monger, but neither would shy away from military intervention:

    Clinton is the sort who would get us into conflict and place substantial political limits on the troops, making success less likely. McCain is the sort who would get us into conflict and use the maximum force (under rules of war). On other issues McCain is a free thinker despite years in DC. He definitely has my vote if he can somehow make it to the general election.

    I find non-intervention superficially appealing, but it ignores the reality of a global marketplace and open borders. The majority might not want this war to continue, but the opinions become more complicated with more information. Some of the "extremists'" statements indicate that it is our tendency to withdraw after half-hearted engagement that inspires them, not our initial involvement.

    August 20, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. Kojo

    McCain is speaking the truth and is talking about reality,clinton knows that she cant withdraw the troops now but is just spinning for votes.We need a President who would stand up and tell it as it is and thats what McCain is doing not what people want to hear.

    August 20, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  16. Mark, San Diego, CA

    McCain is out of touch?

    You libs DO realize the majority of Americans think we should finish the job, right?

    Wow! It's almost like YOU have lost touch with reality.

    August 20, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  17. Sam Ramirez, Castro Valley, CA.

    This a serious time a perilous time for our country and no time for not choosing the best qualified. A Clinton, Richardson ticket would get my support one hundred percent as well as any money left over after paying all my bills to support them!

    August 20, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Bobby Marquette MI

    I agree
    with Sen Clinton and hope she gets the message across to those who still are undecided on voting for her in 08
    Sometimes the truth hurts and she is telling it like it is
    She will get the Job Done

    August 20, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. Penna.

    McCain, You're a clone of Bush.

    Go home to a padded room.

    August 20, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    How many times must John McCain look up
    Before he can see the sky?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must he have
    Before he can hear people (Iraq people & anerican mothers of dead soldiers) cry?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths (of american and Iraq people) will it take till he knows
    That too many people have died?

    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
    The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

    August 20, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. David, Salinas, CA

    This is the main story line of the 2008 election:

    Democrat: The war in Iraq was a bad idea, it was mismanaged and we should get out.

    Republican: The war in Iraq was a good idea, it’s going well and we should stay the course.

    I think it’s obvious which position will resonate with the American people. We aren’t idiots.

    August 20, 2007 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  22. Pam A Summerside PEI

    Unfortunately, the current Presidential Election is not just an American issue. It is a World issue in the most serious sense of the word.
    And I only hope Americans realize the impact their votes in this coming election will have upon all nations across the world.

    The Bush Administration has caused serious fractures and divides among Nato Allies, (Russia, Europe) as well as, Mid East Nations.

    George Bush tactics have turned the world against America. The world currently sees America as a power hungry, dictatorship with one agenda, controlling all Nations of the world for their narcisstic interests. Thanks to George Bush who has injected his own brand of hatred across global nations for the past eight years.

    If the next President fails in bringing America back on track, strained international relationships, and the current hatred felt for America and American Policies will ignite a War making the current Iraq situation look like a mere street brawl.

    And if Bush in an attempt to save face can find a way to start a rumble with Iran before his term expires, the next President better be the best that America has to offer!

    Therefore, Americans need to put aside the petty issues regarding candidates' ie; party lines, morals, ethics, personal baggage, favourable characterists, and family names. Americans need to start focusing on candidates that have proven leadership qualities and the ability to inject peace versus hatred around the Globe.

    This election is not about Republicans and Democrats, the Clinton, Bush, and Regan names. This election will define world status across the Globe. This election is about electing a President that has the ability to reverse the world disaster and devastation brought about by the current administration before it's too late.

    Attack me with whatever labels you see fit. But this election, in my view, has the power to change the future negatively or positively for all Nations around the world.

    By the Grace of God Go We. Lest We Forget!

    August 20, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  23. Lance, Monrovia, CA.

    Both of these candidates are out of touch. Give me Barrack Obama or give me a break.

    August 21, 2007 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  24. Kristy Sanborn Dixon, Mo.

    With that attitude Clinton has that the Iraq governemt is on vacation, thats it, thats the straw that will kill our children, blow up our country, and ruin America, as the governement over there is not on vacation, that is the best Clinton does on keeping up with whats going on over there and she wants to be Commander in Chief? OK, well, then let me inform Clinton that not just a few weeks ago, Saterday, August 11, 2007 to be exact, bombs KILLED Iraqi province's Governor and Chief of Police and BOTH WERE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, and their deaths is what Clinton is calling "BEING ON A VACATION"? Tell their familiies that, Clinton.
    John McCain, there there IS a man who I would guess KNOWS about the Iraq GOVERNMENT Official's deaths, and John McCain, I would like to THANK YOU, for your WISDOM.
    I was NOT aware that being blown up and dying from a BOMB, is the same as "the Iraqi Government is on vacation" as Clinton said, the Iraqi Governemt IS (on vacation) how sick can a person get?

    August 21, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  25. Joe, Florida

    McCain is just too proud.

    This is called escalating commitment in Psychology. He believes and needs so much in the idea to work, that he fails to recognize the signs that it isn’t working. Leaders face this all the time, the decision of When To Pull the Plug? There is a trade-off in every decision, big or small. True, if we pull off Iraq, it would seem as if we lost the war. Please, this notion has haunted this country long off, look at Vietnam. As some wise people say: THOSE WHO DOT KNOW HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

    Many people will agree it is better to switch focus to our domestic issues, and avoid fighting terrorism in open war like it is being done right now. Terrorism is better and safer fought with special ops and diplomacy. This war has only benefited some corporations (names are not needed), and that’s it. This country will not change Iraq and when the troops leave, eventually things will go back to how they were before we went in; what will you then tell soldiers Senator?

    We just have to leave Iraq take care of itself. Who cares if the war is lost at this point? This war was lost before it began. We need a realistic president, man or woman, to look at things clearly, and fix them.

    P.S. Clinton/Obama will be the Democratic ticket and it will win. Rove and Gingrich are focusing their attention on them, making people think they really want that ticket because it will easier to beat. In this line of thought, they hope that Democrats will think twice before choosing. While the truth is Rove and Gingrich are truly petrified at the possibility that a Woman and Black Man will beat them, which is what will happen.

    August 21, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
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