March 2nd, 2008
04:30 PM ET
3 years ago

Wesley Clark: 'Women can fight'

Gen. Clark campaigned with Sen. Clinton in Waco, Texas recently.
Gen. Clark campaigned with Sen. Clinton in Waco, Texas recently.

(CNN) – In a conference call with reporters Sunday, Gen. Wesley Clark, one of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s most high-profile supporters with a military background, took the opportunity to address whether a woman could be counted on to use force when necessary to protect the United States.

“I hope that we’re past that,” Clark said. Noting that “during the Kosovo campaign we had some wonderful women flying airplanes, dropping bombs,” the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO explained “women can fight and women will fight but they’ll fight smart.”

“Hillary Clinton is a fighter by nature,” he said. “I would have no concerns about her willingness to use force but I have great confidence that she’ll only use it as a last resort.”

Clark explained Clinton’s vote authorizing President Bush to take action in Iraq as “a vote for coercive diplomacy” rather than “a vote for war,” and said the Bush administration “misused” the authority granted to it by Congress.

Clark also told reporters that Clinton was more qualified than Sen. John McCain to be the next commander-in chief because McCain’s service as a naval fighter pilot did not prepare him “in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved” in being president. Clinton, in Clark’s estimation, has had the necessary experience to make high-level national security decisions because of her tenure in the U.S. Senate and her time as First Lady.

Clark and 15 other retired U.S. military flag officers, generals and admirals, used the call to explain why they are endorsing Clinton to be the nation’s next commander-in-chief.

Not to be outdone, the Obama campaign also held a conference call with reporters Sunday that highlighted Sen. Obama’s foreign policy experience. Dr. Susan Rice, a former Assistant Secretary of State during the administration of Clinton’s husband, said Sen. Clinton “continues to attack Barack Obama on foreign policy without offering any basis for her own experience.”

“It’s really not enough just to assert you have the experience to be commander-in-chief,” Rice said. “That assertion has to be backed up by a record of judgment and a vision of where you want to lead this country,” she added. Rice also detailed legislative and diplomatic accomplishments by Obama which his campaign says distinguish him from Clinton on foreign policy.

The two campaigns convened the calls after several days in which national security has been in the spotlight of the Democratic nomination race because of dueling ads in which Clinton and Obama each claimed to be the best person to protect the country in the event of an unexpected crisis.

–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. MJ

    It's funny how the Obama backers are complaining now that he's being scrutinized. This is just a peak into the future "IF" he becomes the nominee! He can't handle it, and his arrogant demeanor and empty speeches will be his downfall, b/c most Clinton backers will vote for McCain! Be realistic, you he's the ultimate divider!

    March 2, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. Lenny

    Thanks, General Clark, you're a good man and one of America's great military leaders. Finally, someone with great character and credibility, and knows what it takes to be a leader.

    It’s important to give respect to whom respect is due. Senator McCain, Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton are our leaders in the united states senate. We need them. I wont disrespect them but will honor their service to our great country. I think the insults each of them face are unfair, because there are good things to be found in each of them. I think Senator Obama is very inspirational and encourages people to believe in hope. He has done a great job uniting many in the democratic party. I hope when all is said and done, we will come together as a party and support the nominee.

    If Senator Obama wins, I will support him. If it’s Senator Clinton, I will support her.

    General Clark is supporting Hillary because he knows she will make wise decisions. It's time to get serious because there are many crisis in this world demands immediate attention. We need Hillary. Right now she is the best choice. Hillary has a heart for this country and loves America very much. She's proud of our country and will give all of herself to being its servant. I supported her in the past, and will remain faithful to her even if she doesn't win. She may not win every battle, but she will not back down from anyone. She's a tough leader with a gentle heart.
    Some will put her down, but many admire her for standing up for those whose voices are ignored. I cant wait until Jan 20, 2009, when the announcer will say, Hillary Rodham Clinton, next president of the United States.

    I love this country. I served in the military for 20 years. If I have to go back and serve again, I will do so without hesitation. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”

    General Clark recognizes who will best serve our armed forces as commander in chief. I'll be glad to have someone who cares about our men and women in uniform and will support them in the time of need.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton, the best choice for the United States of America. Land of the free and the home of the brave.

    March 2, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. California Independent

    Yet another Obama supporter who has difficulty with facts.

    Clinton has how many flag officers supporting her? Obama has Rice and she can't figure out Clinton's experience. Typical.

    Oh, that's right... Obama didn't vote against the war.

    March 2, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. peter

    if anyone is wondering why cnn is starting to show a lot of hillary articles and talk about her more and being easier on her lately, it is because cable news want hillary to do real well this tuesday because they realize if Obama was to win big on tuesday then they wouldnt have anything to talk about for the next few months. so essentially the new networks and newpapers need hillary to do well in order to keep getting the ratings they have been getting.

    March 2, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. Jen, Gainesville

    I donated to Clark four years ago. I deeply regret about the donations.

    March 2, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. Paul from Kissimmee

    I support McCain, but if a Democrat won, I would actually feel more comfortable with Clinton running this counrty. Obama has no substance and the few policies I've actually heard him talk about scare me.

    March 2, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. Black Man

    I agree with the general. Hillary is a fighter. Hillary started fight for Americans 35 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton gave their entire adult lives to helping citizen of this country.

    Hillary all the way to the White House...............

    March 2, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Mimi La Cruz for OBAMA

    Hillary is going to start singing "i am woman". any minute now. Many woman might be qualified for the job, but her lack of integrity and judgment seriously disqualify her.

    March 2, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. sivananthi

    WESLEY CLARK :
    “women can fight and women will fight but they’ll fight smart.”

    I THINK MEN CAN DO A GOOD JOB..

    BUT

    I THINK HE IS RIGHT IN 2 OCCASIONS:

    BUSH ON IRAQ
    &
    OBAMA WILL BOMB PAKISTAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. MIwatch

    Everyone knows her so well, but not for Obama. We have no idea how he will behave when he is president, because he has limited history to prove how he will act in numerous issues.

    Additionally, it is too risky for Obama to be president at this time, since he can't prove it from his records. And if he is found related to the Rezko's case later after become Democrat nominee this will ruin the whole Democratic Party in Nov. Too much risk to take at this time to vote for Obama.

    March 2, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. My reasons...

    First and foremost....all the candidates are US Senators and deserve respect for that.

    I will not support any candidate that:

    Is an advocate for nuclear weapons-

    Is an advocate of NAFTA – see news regarding letter to Canada

    Is an advocate of disenfranchising millions of democratic voters – that is NOT democratic

    Is an advocate of the 'haves' and 'have nots' for health care – that is devisive!

    Plays 'follow the leader' too well – what would this person do if there was no one to follow?

    Parrots responses all to often – or uses others words for speeches – is there an original thought in there?

    Has admitted poor judgment and seems to have made fun of the fact that he voted on something that he knew was wrong and voted that way anyway....and all after being a Constitutional Law Professor.

    So lets turn off the telepromters!!!!!!!!! Vote for the leader, vote for change and experience, vote for the White House........Vote for Hillary Clinton!

    March 2, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  12. Muyoyeta

    It's a shame when men and women who are supposed to be impartial and be respected for it start allowing themselves to be used as a mop... This war veteran has no substance in his argument he is advancing. How can you even compare who has more spine over war issues between McCain and Hillary Clinton?

    Look at the way he is trying to chew with both hands. While he is saying Clinton won't hesitate to trigger war, he is also trying to say she will use it wisely... You are either for the war or not for the war, and not both at any time!

    March 2, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. v.a.

    IRAQ WAR IS A FACT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    WAKE UP OBAMA AND DEAL WITH IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    "PRESIDENT" OBAMA WILL BRING THE TROOPS HOME AT ONCE…

    IF AMERICAN TROOPS WITHDRAWN BEFORE THE JOB IS DONE THEN THERE WILL BE A CIVIL WAR AND MANY MANY MANY INNOCENT MENN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WILL GET KILLED…

    ALL THE COURAGES ACTIONS AND SCARIFICES DONE BY THE AMERICAN SOLDIERS SO FAR WILL GO WASTED AND IRAQ MIGHT EVEN GET A WORSE DICTATOR THAN SADDAM HUSSEIN……

    DONE IS DONE AND USA NEEDS A PRESIDENT WHO CAN SOLVE THE PROBLEM WITH DIGNITY ………….

    THE FUTURE IS THE CASE NOT THE PAST WHERE YOU GAVE A SPEECH AGAINST THE IRAQ WAR SOME YEARS BACK..... …

    March 2, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. L. Brown

    Reject – refuse, rebuff, decline or to deny.

    Denounce – criticize something publicly and harshly; charge someone with wrongdoing;
    Announcement of the end of an agreement
    THIS SEEMS STRONGER!!!!!

    March 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. gene

    There was another major endorsement yesterday, but the media failed to report it. Four star General Shelton (retired), former member of the Joint Chiefs of staff during the administrations of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton endorsed Hillary Clinton. In addition, Obama stated today that Senator Rockefellow voted against the war. He did not! He voted for it, plus an Obama Aide on national TV said the same thing. Elmer Gantrey is alive and well and his name is Obama. The number of Flag Officers to endorse Hillary Clinton now stands at 28 Admirals and Generals. I doubt that Obama has any. They want Hillary at that red phone, not him, he who still plays in a sand box.

    March 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. ACFX

    He's the VP if she gets there.

    March 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
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