August 22nd, 2007
09:04 AM ET
7 years ago

Rivals criticize Clinton for Iraq praise

Clinton addressed the VFW convention Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working."

The remarks came during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, in which the New York Democrat said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas."

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics."

"We can't ever let that happen again," Clinton added. "We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson quickly jumped at the chance to highlight Clinton's seeming praise of the president.

“The fact is the surge is not working," he said in a statement. "I do not give President Bush the same credit on Iraq that Hillary does."

Meanwhile, David Bonior, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' campaign manager, called Clinton's comments "another instance of a Washington politician trying to have it both ways."

Though Bonior did agree with Clinton that there was "progress" in Al Anbar, he said "by cherry-picking one instance to validate a failed Bush strategy, it risks undermining the effort in the Congress to end this war."

Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communication's director, charged that Bonior was distorting Clinton’s position.

"Senator Edwards was right on Sunday when he said that all the Democrats would end the war and that the differences between them were small," he said. "He is wrong today to distort Senator Clinton's opposition to the surge in a sad attempt to raise his flagging poll numbers."

"The fact is that while Democrats, including Senator Edwards and Senator Obama, acknowledge progress in Al Anbar, Senator Clinton opposed the surge from the start and believes there is no military solution to the war in Iraq," Wolfson added.

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Bill Richardson • Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Ric Chicago, Illinois

    Hillary, Lieberman, McCain and others make these comments about "progress" from the surge by pointing to Al Anbar but nobody mentions the details of this supposed – and short term at a monimum – "progress." First, Al Anbar is predominately Sunni Muslim, a minority in Irag – which Saddam and his Baath party were. Second, the U.S. has been supplying the Sunnis with U.S. arms so it can fight who Bush identifies as Al Queda, but who really are, to the Sunnis, foreign Salafi fighters of the kind the Sunnis have warred against for centuries. Third, the Sunni block withdrew from the Maliki government – which the U.S. supposedly supports. So, when the Sunnis are finished in Al Anbar they may very well use the cache of U.S. arms and overthrow Maliki. That's "progress?"

    August 22, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    In a far less than perfect world Hillary continues to prove that she is the superior politician. Get used to it – she will be the next President!

    August 22, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Eric, St. Paul, MN

    Hillary is merely using one of John Kerry's favorite tactics: when speaking to a pro-war crowd, be for the war; when speaking to an anti-war crowd, be against the war.

    Ms. Hodham – Clinton, and the rest of the Democratic field, are absolutely unfit to be commander-in-chief. The entire field needs failure in the War on Terror (especially its current front: Iraq), or they will gain no credibility.

    Clinton, Obama, Richardson, Edwards, and the rest need to leave politics to the grown-ups.

    August 22, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. sonya, atlanta, ga

    i'm tried of her pandering. I would respect Hillary more if she didn't do this stand by your cheating man to ride his coatails, touting his legacy as her experience into a Senate senate and the White house. I would respect her more as a woman if she did it on her own and stop trying to copy Margret Thatcher to become more of a hawk than Bush.

    August 22, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Mac, Severn, Md

    The Democrat party has absolutely no interest in the USA succeeding in Iraq and they will silence any of their members who suggest that any strategy there is working. This is the most pathetic, treasonous action – how can they call themselves Americans when they put their political party ambitions ahead of the good of the country?

    August 22, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Joy Fairfax VA.

    I am not for clinton at this time I am for edwards but when co-democrats did not listen or twist what she said as I read it in your article, yes some of the surge has worked but TOO LATE, WE'RE JUST YEARS TOO LATE IN CHANGING OUR TACTICS. What gives, I expect this from republicans but not democrats. Do not twist words so that in the end it is a truth but help us with the things that are so important to us Americans. Iraq, Health, Jobs (out sourcing) etc.

    August 22, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Rob

    I see no harm in Hillary giving credit where credit is due. I am a Veteran Of OEF Afghanistan, Never been to Iraq, but feel the pain of my brothers and want them home sooner than most. I am an avid critic of the Bush Foreign Policy Plan. With this stated our soldiers are holding steady with this flawed mission they have been handed. Gains may be being made, however, we must realize what Hillary already knows. That the force size in Iraq cannot quell the entire country side and heal the divisions. Iraq is a gamble militarily and politically. I think we needed to have the surge run its course. Hillary does see that it is a bit to little a long time too late. A clear hold and build strategy is only possible if the American People are ready for a Draft. I am ready for it... if it comes to that are you ??? Hillary is probably not the hawk you may think... She doesn't see a draft as the answer. That’s right .... we need numbers in that country to clear hold and build, but even then it is a gamble. At the moment we are fueling the ethnic divides with weaponry. The Sunni Arabs see this as a chance to arm themselves for the fight that is still to come with the Shia for a take back of their former status of being in control of the Govt. It isn't the first time you’ve heard the line that the enemy of my enemy is my friend ???? Bottom line is that we are still considered occupiers by our current friends until their
    Needs are fulfilled. I mean it doesn’t take a genius to see that they are defiant in participating in any way shape or form with the Maliki govt. We installed a democracy where majority rules. When this happened we opened the door for the Shia Arabs, and their Iranian Shia Persian influences. When the shia outnumber the Sunni’s which were in power under their dictator, how could you expect anything other than retaliation for the brutal oppression of their way of life for so long. One can say ok… the Sunnis deserve it, but in our interest… they are the ones with the will… the financial networks … and not to mention the most educated class of Arabs in that country. They are the majority of the country’s doctors… lawyers… police chiefs… intelligence service operatives.. and generals. Anyway with all of this stated, Hillary see’s the larger picture of placing her odds on the fact that the clear hold and secure has morphed into a situation where we are appeasing the opposition for a short time. I have always thought we should have worked to undermine the current Iraqi government we helped establish. find this agreement with the Sunni’s and help give them back control… The face of Al Queada in Iraq is only resonating among the vacuum of power. Once a Sunni or shia govt is in place, or lets say after nature takes its course, will Al Qaeda in Iraq be run out with its tail between its legs. This terrorist haven theory for Al Qaeda in Iraq is a crock…. The only concern we should have is with continuing an occupation that takes away the control of the Sunni’s . This has already and will continue to fuel the desire for Sunni Arabs to form or join an Al Qaeda like militia. Bottom line… Hillary’s comments are calculated to fit its audience… for the time I support her…, but if her hawkish stance progresses or morphs then I will reconsider.

    August 22, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. ReadBtwthlins

    CNN has a little boy on its cover who was set on fire by terrorists. Why are Democrats attacking those that want to fight against monsters that do this? Is the presidency worth that much to you??

    Somehow I don't think this boy feels the same way. But oh well, who cares about Iraqi's freedom.., right?

    August 22, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Antony, Dallas TX

    Have you all noticed that when Clinton's lead is shrinking, the polls are never published highly. Angus Reid puts up its poll numbers every monday (On behalf of Rassmussen). This time it did not come up if you search "Barack Obama" on google. Before this would also pull up poll numbers showing him way behind. This time, they did not and unless you go to the site direct, you will not find it. Take a look folks. Obama is behind by 14 points as opposed to 20 points last week. Hmmmmm. Clinton machine must be really strong to influence all this.

    http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/16902

    August 22, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Dan, TX

    I agree with Chuckles007, Sacramento, Ca. and Posted By Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    It is very interesting that she voted for the war and now says that was a mistake and voted against the surge and now says that it is a good thing so apparently she thinks she was wrong and should have voted for it.

    Yes it is good for people to admit their mistakes as Clinton has done. Although I wouldn't call it savvy, just being honest (I don't think being honest should be so unusual as to be called being savvy!).

    August 22, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Tom, Texas

    Command Sergeant Major Hillary Rodham declares: "We're just years too late in changing our tactics." Indeed, the United States military should be taking instructions on warfare from some military hating dimwit like Rodham, who knows nothing about warfare.

    August 22, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. pat p., huntington, ny

    It is demeaning to our brave soilders to say the surge is a complete failure if it is indeed working in one province. Since the surge is working in one province, then the comments by Edwards and Richards are demeaning to the soilders and they should quit the race now. Clinton should be praised for her comment – shows courage and character to give credit where credit is due, even if it goes to someone like Bush.

    August 22, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Lynn

    What Clinton, the article and the posts neglect to say is that the successes in Al Anbar is in a large part from arming Sunni militias who earlier were fighting and killing American forces. This is a move which is not supported by the Iraqi Gov't and may in fact prove once again that those who are armed now may in fact be those who turn against as in the end.

    This war has only losers and those are the average, decent Iraqi people. What a sad state this war has become and now is being used for policical expediency.

    August 22, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote. But I am very glad to see a globalistic view developing in some of your candidates.

    That's right. America is a global power with global influences in many areas. Ms Rodham-Clinton is the first off the gate to recognize that global reach, which imposes upon your nation the duty to choose a President with a global outlook.

    This is indeed encouraging to us non-Americans.

    August 22, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. Arshad, Newburgh, NY

    Senator Clinton is one ambitious woman. Obsessed with relentless pursuit of power. Being President of the USA is a personal goal for her. She has been preparing her whole life for this. So she will do anything (ANYTHING) and say anything to get there.

    She din't vote for Iraq war thinking what is best for the country. She thought how that vote will play out in her future pursuit of power. She stayed with a disfunctional marriage after being cheated so many times because she needs her last name "clinton" in her pursuit of power. She compromised her self respect, dignity and honor as long as it helps to become more powerful. She became a senator from NY only because she needs that title on her resume to make her case. She was wife of an elected governor or an elected president although she claim those years as her "qualification and experience". She needed to be in public office for herself. Hillary claim she knows how to beat Republican. Well, every single elected Senator who is in the race beat an Republican in their own election.

    On the other hand Obama is a selfless man. He never tried to convert his fancy degrees into big fat pay check but dedicated his early career in improving other people's lives. He has witnessed the pain and suffering of people 1st hand by being there in person, knocking the doors, walking on street. Making an impact on people's lives has been improtant for him. He did not do those as a "roadmap" to become a president or create his resume. People all across the country asked him to run for president.

    So it's important for Hillary to become the next US president but it's important for the PEOPLE to see Obama being the next president. That's the main difference between the two. One for herself only, other for all of us. You choose what you want.

    August 22, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Lee, Fredericksburg, VA

    To Peggy McCann Greenssboro(sic) North Carolina:

    There is not one candidate running for president who does not desire the power of the presidency. Hillary is no scarier than the rest. Give me a break, do you think all of the rest of them are running solely because they are altruistic and want to help humanity? They all are ego-driven with a lust for power and prestige. The constant hammering away at Hillary for being ambitious and desirous of power is simply sexist, irrespective of the fact that you are a woman. The men all want the same thing but you never hear these criticisms of them.

    August 22, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. C, Sacramento, CA.

    I am a Dem. and if Hillary Clinton gets the nod over Obama from the Dems, I will be taking a look at Ron Paul. It's simply about common sense to me and not necessarily Dem. vs. Rep. Let's wake up folks! Iraq didn't cause 9/11/01, now I hear rumblings about a draft??? Lord help us all!

    August 22, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Danny Casolaro Martinsburg, Virginia

    1988: Vote for Bush
    1992: Vote for Clinton
    1996: Vote for Clinton
    2000: "Vote" for Bush
    2004: "Vote" for Bush
    2008: "Vote" for Clinton
    2016: "Vote" for Jeb Bush

    And the idiotic American public still thinks we live in a democracy.

    Louis XIV, XV, XII, etc. etc. etc.

    August 22, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. TOM, ME USA

    I SUPPORT THE WAR AND THE GEORGE W BUSH ACTION FIGURE. WHEN YOU PULL HIS RIP CORD HE'LL SAY THINGS SUCH AS STAY THE COURSE, SMOKE UM OUT OF THEIR HOLES, YOU'RE EITHER WITH US OR WITH THE TERRORISTS, AND SUPPORTING THE US MEANS SUPPORTING ISRAEL! PLEASE PURCHASE THIS WONDERFUL ACTION FIGURE THAT DEMONSTRATES SUPPORT FOR THIS ILLUSTRIOUS ADMINISTRATION, AND ALSO THE BODY BAG INDUSTRY!

    August 22, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Dale, Columbus, OH

    ok Hillary, I see the puppets pulling your Neo-Con strings.

    August 22, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. spinstopper

    Iraqi freedom is bad for the Democratic party.

    August 22, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Michael James -- Illinois

    "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics."

    Most people, including a lot of military people, recognize that there is no viable military solution in Iraq. Therefore, although some tactics are better than others, it’s the overall strategy that has been and continues to be the problem.

    We should certainly use the tactics most likely to work for as long as we are engaged in fighting, but the primary purpose of the surge was to provide enough security to allow political reconciliation to occur amongst the various Iraqi factions (or, at least, progress towards reconciliation.) While post-surge security is improved compared to pre-surge security in areas using the extra troops, this was not the strategic objective in and of itself.

    Thus, while the surge may be “working” in terms of security in specific locales, it is unlikely to significantly alter the political landscape within Iraq. Unless we are willing to put a huge number of troops in Iraq and keep them there for 5 or 10 more years, the militias can just wait us out because the troops we’re using for the surge are there due to using existing troops more than we originally planned by extending deployments, reducing time in between deployments, etc. This simply cannot be sustained.

    The idea that the strategy was okay and that the only thing wrong has been our tactics tells us quite a bit about Senator Clinton. If a person had picked a fight using karate instead of aikido, sure, one may have better results than the other, but the real answer is that the fight should not have been picked to begin with.

    That is why the prescience Barack Obama demonstrated on the Iraq vote is highly preferable to looking at it in hindsight and saying "if I knew then what I know now..." as Clinton and others have said. Barack had the foresight to know that it was going to be a bad move. That kind of judgment and foresight is what I want in my President and is strong evidence of his ability to sift through the complexities a president faces and make the right decision. We don’t know all of the tough decisions the next president will face, but we do know that Barack has what it takes to make such decisions.

    August 22, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. VanReuter NY NY

    Based on what I've read here; If I had to give a dollar to everyone who read the speech, and not the one paragraph here, before they commented, I'd never have opened my wallet

    Van

    August 22, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Rob

    Hey guys..I see no harm in Hillary giving credit where credit is due. I am a Veteran Of OEF Afghanistan, Never been to Iraq, but feel the pain of my brothers and want them home sooner than most. I am an avid critic of the Bush Foreign Policy Plan. With this stated our soldiers are holding steady with this flawed mission they have been handed. Gains may be being made, however, we must realize what Hillary already knows. That the force size in Iraq cannot quell the entire country side and heal the divisions. Iraq is a gamble militarily and politically. I think we needed to have the surge run its course. Hillary does see that it is a bit to little a long time too late. A clear hold and build strategy is only possible if the American People are ready for a Draft. I am ready for it... if it comes to that are you ??? Hillary is probably not the hawk you may think... She doesn't see a draft as the answer. That’s right .... we need numbers in that country to clear hold and build, but even then it is a gamble. At the moment we are fueling the ethnic divides with weaponry. The Sunni Arabs see this as a chance to arm themselves for the fight that is still to come with the Shia for a take back of their former status of being in control of the Govt. It isn't the first time you’ve heard the line that the enemy of my enemy is my friend ???? Bottom line is that we are still considered occupiers by our current friends until their
    Needs are fulfilled. I mean it doesn’t take a genius to see that they are defiant in participating in any way shape or form with the Maliki govt. We installed a democracy where majority rules. When this happened we opened the door for the Shia Arabs, and their Iranian Shia Persian influences. When the shia outnumber the Sunni’s which were in power under their dictator, how could you expect anything other than retaliation for the brutal oppression of their way of life for so long. One can say ok… the Sunnis deserve it, but in our interest… they are the ones with the will… the financial networks … and not to mention the most educated class of Arabs in that country. They are the majority of the country’s doctors… lawyers… police chiefs… intelligence service operatives.. and generals. Anyway with all of this stated, Hillary see’s the larger picture of placing her odds on the fact that the clear hold and secure has morphed into a situation where we are appeasing the opposition for a short time. I have always thought we should have worked to undermine the current Iraqi government we helped establish. find this agreement with the Sunni’s and help give them back control… The face of Al Queada in Iraq is only resonating among the vacuum of power. Once a Sunni or shia govt is in place, or lets say after nature takes its course, will Al Qaeda in Iraq be run out with its tail between its legs. This terrorist haven theory for Al Qaeda in Iraq is a crock…. The only concern we should have is with continuing an occupation that takes away the control of the Sunni’s . This has already and will continue to fuel the desire for Sunni Arabs to form or join an Al Qaeda like militia. Bottom line… Hillary’s comments are calculated to fit its audience… for the time I support her…, but if her hawkish stance progresses or morphs then I will reconsider.

    August 22, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. tony, Mount Vernon, NY

    God forbid we should speak the truth. The fact is that militarily the surge is working, but there are two problems:

    1.) It will take a surge of five to 10 more years to "win" and we don't have the troops or the will to sustain that.
    2.) Without a strong, unified government a military solution won't work.

    Let's remember the TET Offensive people. Militarily it was a success, but the enemy just retrenched and kept up the fight because the communist support in Vietnam was still high.

    Democrats feel that they need to paint this war as a total loss in order to win in 2008, but that's not the case. I salute Sen. Clinton for being honest, but I guess honesty doesn't count much in the eyes of many Obama-maniacs on this blog. They'd rather hear about hope while their candid resorts to personal attacks, talks of another pre-emptive war and further undermines our reputation abroad with his comments on Cuba and Pakistan.

    We need an honest leader who will speak the truth and unite us, not someone who talks hope out one side of his mouth and spews politics as usual out of the other side.

    August 22, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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