October 13th, 2007
02:10 PM ET
7 years ago

Edwards attacks Clinton stance on Iran

The Edwards campaign criticized Clinton's recent comments on Iran.

(CNN)–Former North Carolina senator John Edwards campaign accused Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York of flip-flopping her position on negotiating with Iran.

“Senator Clinton needs to be honest with the American people about her plans – but on everything from Iran to Iraq to Social Security, it seems she's trying to have it both ways," said Chris Kofinis, communications director for Edwards' campaign in a statement on Friday.

During a Democratic presidential debate in July, Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said he would be willing to meet without precondition in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

Standing with him on stage, Clinton said she would first send envoys to test the waters and called Obama's position irresponsible and naive.

But asked about it Thursday by a voter, the New York senator said twice that she, too, would negotiate with Iran "with no conditions."

"I would engage in negotiations with Iran, with no conditions, because we don't really understand how Iran works. We think we do, from the outside, but I think that is misleading," she said at an apple orchard.

“It is very disappointing that Senator Clinton seems determined to hedge her responses on the issues that matter most to the American people. After six years of the Bush Administration’s disastrous foreign policy, the stakes in this election are too high," Kofinis went on to say in the release. "The American people deserve a president who will tell them the truth and offer straight answers, not flip-flops and political double-speak.”

Edwards was scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday.
Click here to CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iran • John Edwards • New Hampshire • Race to '08
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Coach Haughton NH

    Flip flopping makes for good polling because you can say whatever is most popular at the time without standing by it later. Once people jump on the bandwagon they will be too embarrased at themselves admit their mistake. They will buy the candidates spin and excuses or even create new ones for them.

    Hate it or love it this one is going to stick.

    October 13, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. john williams san diego, ca.

    the breck girl is the biggest con artist since zero mostel

    October 13, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Ayyub, Richmond

    Why is it so difficult to see the difference between negotiating government-to-government and meeting leader-to-leader? Really, can Senator Obama and former Senator Edwards not see this distinction, or do they actively choose not to?

    Posted By Lee, Boston, MA : October 13, 2007 3:02 pm

    Are you an air-head? C'mon! It's the same thing. The government includes the leader and the people that work for and with him/her. Do you even know what government is? I hope you learn more about politics.

    October 13, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Brett, Pembroke, MA

    For my record, this is the best part of the CNN Political Ticker. Constant political news of the "small ball" variety, yet still important.

    One problem, though. "Standing with him on stage, Clinton said she would first send envoys to test the waters and called Obama's position irresponsible and naive."

    Not true. If you actually look back at the video of the YouTube/CNN debate, you can see that Hillary did not directly confront Obama over his comments onstage, and that the "irresponsible and naive" statement came AFTER the debate, not during.

    Truth is the most important thing in news coverage, and it must never be sacrificed for simplicity.

    October 13, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. THarris Houston, Tx

    I am sure he does – probably will move to convert us to Islam straight away if elected.

    October 13, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Ayyub, Richmond

    I want to say something to all the Clinton Bedroom supporters.
    HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MINDS! Please you all sound desperate to get this woman in to office to the point you would blindly protect her if she's being called on something she did wrong. And if you're going to bring up where was Obama on the day of the vote you should have watched CSPAN! If you know all that match about politics at all. I hope Hillary doesn't tell you people to jump off of a bridge because right now I truely think you would do it.

    AYYUB

    October 13, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. SB

    Good job John Edwards!

    Obama/Edwards 08

    October 13, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Mike Longview, TX

    I am sooooo tired of hearing Edwards criticizing Hillary. I will be glad when Iowa and NH are over and maybe he will go back to NC!

    October 13, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  9. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    It is sad, Obama and Edwards couldn't understand what Hillary meant about Iran. Obama told us he wants to meet them man to man, Hillary told us America will negotiate with Iran, means government to government. They know her intention but they just like to make attacking issue, because they knew they have no any hope in this point. Val Davydov, you couldn't speak out which party you belong to proudly? shame on you. I am a Hillary supporter, no thanks, I don't need your advice, I am very possitive what I am doing. I think Republican candidates need somebody's advice. "which of course is fine by me" but not for the Country, you are very selfish, just like Republican.

    October 13, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Q. Christian Atlanta GA

    The Edwards campaigns looks as if it is falling apart. The only thing he is doing is attacking Senator Clinton. He has not attacked Senator Obama for not even showing up to vote on the Kyl-Leiberman amendment. He is only focused on bashing Senator Clinton. He is really really looking desperate. He had an enormous lead in Iowa, that has vanished. His campaign donations are down. His support is dwindling.

    I think former Senator Edwards needs to retire from Presidential politics. He has his opportunity. It's time he gave someone else theirs.

    October 13, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Ayyub, Richmond

    The guy above got it absolutely right. No hispanic or black guy can beat a white girl. Hillary will win and you won't even have a vice presidential shoot or Obama. So you supports of these boys need to give up because Hillary Clinton is the winner.

    HILLARY 08!

    Posted By Chris, Dallas : October 12, 2007 2:06 pm

    It's sad that Hillary supporters have gone this low. It's shameful and absolutely sad.

    October 13, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. Sean Thomas, Peoria, IL

    Edwards feels he can beat Clinton because she gets only a $ 50 haircut whereas Edwards gets something far better than that.

    October 13, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  13. al, San Francisco, CA

    Mr. Edwrads,
    Most dem voters do not care what you say. You are just a bag of wind. You are finished politically in next Januray.

    October 13, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Tired of Stupidity

    Kyu-

    What is sad is you not having a clue about the ramifications of Hillary's vote on Iran.

    Those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.

    Enjoy your blind ignorance.

    October 13, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. Coach Haughton NH

    The guy above got it absolutely right. No hispanic or black guy can beat a white girl. Hillary will win and you won't even have a vice presidential shoot or Obama. So you supports of these boys need to give up because Hillary Clinton is the winner.

    My response:

    For the Racist Bigot whose name I will not honor and whose city of residence I will not shame.

    I'm sure that if you said that in the presence of hillary, barack or richardson they would laugh at you, and then turn away in disguist.

    Wouldn't it be so much easier for barack if clinton actually said "I think I am most qualified for president because I a white girl"

    Whenever visiting the south I notice that the words black and white serve as prefixes for girl and boy more often than not.

    Just letting you know that is laughable to about 3/4ths of the country.

    On the bright side, the candidate you support is an excellent spin artist.

    October 14, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  16. Jamal Willings

    sorry John, your handsome, but the sour grapes against CLINTON are very unattractive...

    Its time for you to consider being her Vice President.
    CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT

    October 14, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  17. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    The major news outlets have already joined Senator Barack Obama in mischaracterizing Senator Hillary Clinton’s position regarding negotiations with Iran. They have asserted that her comments during the July YouTube debate contradict her comments made during an October 11 campaign appearance in New Hampshire. However, a mere twenty minutes of internet research to find the actual sources of her comments clearly demonstrate that her position has been entirely consistent throughout, despite the mischaracterizations by Senator Obama and the media.
    This is all laid out in detail below. In short, Senator Clinton clearly said she would not commit to direct, personal meetings with specific, tyrannical leaders in her first year without any preconditions. On the other hand, what she has stated all along is a commitment to vigorous diplomatic negotiations between her administration and the Iranian government in order to lay the groundwork for improved relations and the kind of principals’ meeting called for at the YouTube debate.
    As for the detailed analysis, here was the question at issue from the YouTube debate:
    QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
    Here is how Senator Obama began his answer:
    OBAMA: “I would.”
    Here is what Senator Clinton said at the debate about that question:
    CLINTON: “Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year.”
    That is all she said she would not do. In reinforcing this point, she said in the very next sentence what she would do:
    “I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.”
    So, right off the bat, she promised to enter into diplomatic discussions, as distinct from direct high level meetings. She repeated this in the same response.
    “And I will pursue very vigorous diplomacy. And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.”
    So, it is clear she was rejecting the idea of unconditional meetings with the specific national leaders, such as Ahmadinejad. In fact, here is how Anderson Cooper rephrased the question to Senator Edwards immediately after Senator Clinton gave her response:
    COOPER: “Senator Edwards, would you meet with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il?”
    (If Senator Obama meant for his answer to be directed at lower level national negotiations, he has never said anything to correct the record.)
    Senator Clinton reemphasized these exact positions the next day in her interview with an Iowa Quad City Times reporter, noting the distinction between directly meeting with those leaders and carrying out diplomatic negotiations, (you can listen for yourself at http://www.qctimes.com/multimedia/audio/070724_clinton.mp3). In calling Senator Obama’s position naïve and irresponsible, she particularly emphasized that the question they each answered at the debate was narrowly focused on committing without preconditions to a meeting during the first year with those five world leaders. She specifically criticized the Bush administration for not laying the diplomatic groundwork of even speaking with representatives of the Iranian government in order to develop a path toward negotiation.
    Her comments during her October 11 campaign appearance were completely in line with these positions. Here is what she said, which you can find posted on her campaign site’s blog (http://www.hillaryclinton.com/blog/): “I would engage in negotiations with Iran, with no conditions because we don't really understand how Iran works.” She noted the relative unimportance of Ahmadinejad compared to the supreme leadership and clerical leadership, and that we don’t even understand those real leaders. Then, as with the Quad City Times Reporter, she noted the failure of the Bush administration to even establish low level negotiations. It was in this context that she then stated that we need to prepare for “the opportunity to sit down and figure out if there is any way that we can convince, persuade, threaten the Iranians not to pursue nuclear power. So that's what I would do. I would negotiate with them. No conditions.” Clearly, in this passage, she reiterated her YouTube position of not promising to meet with Ahmadinejad, but vowing to “pursue very vigorous diplomacy” with Iran on a country-to-country level.
    Here is an example of how NPR blurred this distinction to mischaracterize Senator Clinton’s position, as presented on their web-site’s lead in to Senator Obama’s October 13 interview with NPR’s Andrea Seabrook: “On Thursday, Clinton said she'd meet with Iranian leaders "without preconditions" — a position she criticized Obama for taking earlier in the summer.”
    Here is how Senator Obama himself perpetuated this mischaracterization during his interview with Ms. Seabrook, by blurring the distinction between direct, face-to-face meetings with certain leaders, including Ahmadinejad, versus establishing lower level diplomatic negotiations on a national level: “But the most important thing that we have to do is initiate the kind of diplomacy that is going to stabilize the situation. And there, Senator Clinton and I do appear to have a difference, although it's hard to tell. I suggested that we should talk to our enemies and not just our friends, including Iran, including Syria. I got in an argument with Senator Clinton back in the summer about this, because she suggested that that approach of negotiating without preconditions could be used for propaganda purposes and would be naïve.”
    Notwithstanding this distortion, the distinction Senator Clinton has repeatedly made, as outlined above, is clear. The public sees it and we will hold you accountable if you perpetuate this falsehood, whether to discredit Senator Clinton or merely to add heat to your campaign coverage. As the quote below shows (http://mediamatters.org/items/200708280005?src=rss-alert), Media Matters is also on to this:
    “The Washington Post has recently portrayed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as opposing meetings with leaders of countries hostile to the United States. In fact, Clinton has opposed committing to meeting with such leaders without preconditions and within her first year in office.”
    I suggest you maintain your journalistic responsibility and integrity and report what actually occurred, clearly and accurately, so that voters can decide for themselves.

    October 14, 2007 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. J.McKinney SW MO

    >>At least Edwards, as well as Obama, are actually saying what they mean and saying it consistantly from beginning to end of the conversation.<<

    What they are saying, and about the only thing they are saying, is what Hillary is doing wrong–and it is hard to find those kinds of things. They need to say what THEY are going to do for America, but they don't seem to have much to say about that. If they couldn't talk about what Hillary is doing wrong, they wouldn't be able to think of anything to say.

    GO, HILLARY!!

    YOu are the only one who is saying what you WOULD do, rather than what everyone else shouldn't do. YOU DEFINATELY HAVE THE VOTES FROM MY HOME.

    October 14, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Ayyub, Richmond

    >>At least Edwards, as well as Obama, are actually saying what they mean and saying it consistantly from beginning to end of the conversation.<<

    What they are saying, and about the only thing they are saying, is what Hillary is doing wrong–and it is hard to find those kinds of things. They need to say what THEY are going to do for America, but they don't seem to have much to say about that. If they couldn't talk about what Hillary is doing wrong, they wouldn't be able to think of anything to say.

    GO, HILLARY!!

    YOu are the only one who is saying what you WOULD do, rather than what everyone else shouldn't do. YOU DEFINATELY HAVE THE VOTES FROM MY HOME.

    Posted By J.McKinney SW MO : October 14, 2007 10:28 am

    And they do, At least Obama does. I don't know about Edwards. If you go on Obama website it would tell you what he plans for America

    AYYUB

    October 14, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky:

    Sorry buddy. "Very selfish" is precisely the definition of yourself. You are the one blindly following Hillary, thus, forfeiting any chance at your party's victory in general election. I can make a bet that Hillary will be a loser in general election if she is a nominee – she is despised by way too may voters. Remember I said this next year in November, Kyu.

    Oh, and one more thing. Don't worry about the Republican candidates, they are pretty brilliant themselves – they'll figure it out.

    October 14, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  21. Sue, Michigan

    Val, you're kidding about the "brilliant" Republican candidates, aren't you? There isn't a man there that doesn't have way more baggage than Hillary to contend with-pro-abortion, multiple marriages and divorces, ready to bomb Iran..I don't know what universe you inhabit, but here in the real world we think that a strong effort to stay OUT of war trumps about any other position. I am also tired of the Republican mantra "No taxes" when they spend us into oblivion. Of course you have to have taxes, and frankly, the war tax proposed in Congress is a great idea. Put your money where your mouth is, Bush (or rather, our money!) Then we'll see who supports this President! GO HILLARY...we're ready for the Dems again. Short of the Rove-led cheating that got Bush into the WH in 2000 thanks to Jeb, and the questionable election tactics in Ohio in '04, the Dems will win.

    October 15, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  22. Ryan Indianapolis

    Give up John, this by no means gives Bush authority to go to war with IRAN and you know it. I am no Hillary fan and I am a republican but you look really desperate here and need to just go away.

    October 15, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. anon, new york, NY

    As Edwards' support from dem voters has declined close to single digits, he chance for nomination is very slim.

    Before the 2004 nomination, he dropped out of the race, threw supported to the front runner and was then picked as a VP running mate.

    This time, he has realised that he has no chance to be the VP running mate, as Hillary may pick Obama instead for addtional votes if she needs it for the presidency. That explains why Edwards is getting desperate, not dropping out of the race and keep bashing Hillary. That does Edwards no good and closes Edwards political coffin.

    October 15, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. James Ziolkowski, Buffalo, NY

    We have to take out Iran's nuclear capability before it's too late.

    No liberal president would have the guts to do anything about this problem.

    Iran is hell bent of destroying Israel with America a close second. Let's hit them first. They've been asking for it since 1979 when they took our people hostage. The world will be better off without Iran having nuclear weapons.

    October 15, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  25. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    No, Sue, I am NOT kidding. Why would I be kidding? Do you think that the Republican candidate Mitt Romney is less capable of being elected president and then being the president of the United States than Hillary is? Frankly, I don't think so. Gov. Romney has much more experience needed to lead our nation than Hillary does.

    And congratulations, good for you that you are one of those blind supporters of Hillary.

    October 16, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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