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. jan43

    Gen. Clark is right that we are past the question of whether a woman can protect us. Women can. Where he errs in judgment is that Hillary is that person.

    One's gender does not lead to good judgment as we all know from our current president and that's where Clark misspeaks when he says, “women can fight and women will fight but they’ll fight smart.”

    “Hillary Clinton is a fighter by nature,” he said.
    I concede she is a fight but after these last two weeks of ups and downs, sarcasm, fear-mongering, mocking the democratic movement taking place in this country, her inability to control her husband and her pathetic, "shame on you" demonstrates that in no way is her temperament one which we need in the White House.

    The commander -in-chief needs to have a steady hand and not fly off the handle when things are not going right. If Clinton did not have a plan B for her election, then what happens if she has the fate of the country in her hands...I shutter to think.

    March 2, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. dan

    Oh please... General Clark can't be serious. Saying that Shrillary's years as first lady have given her experience to be commander in chief and she is more prepared than McCain???? Give me a break. Maybe McCain's years as the son/grandson of an Admiral should count as "experience". All I can say, if the phone rings at 3 am, I want someone who has actual military experience answering it.

    March 2, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  3. Reality check

    Clark is right, Hillary is the one candidate that can lead this country and can get us out of Iraq safely. She is a woman that has worked intently at everything she has done. She has an enormous grip on foreign and domestic policies and progressive politics is one of her strong points. She's better qualified and is dedicated to detail. She is also the one candidate that can make universal health care happen. Our economy was more sound than it had been in many years during her husbands career and I know she will get us back on track. She is the one who can do all this and more.

    March 2, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. Mike

    Clinton just comes off as tough. We need tough, and Clark is the best person to help us recognize that.

    March 2, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. JR, Texas

    Okay, let us be fair on this; Sen. Clinton was endorsed by well known and veteran Generals and Admirals which they think wholeheartedly is the better candidate to answer that 3 a.m. call. Who is this Dr. Susan Rice endorsing Obama who has never been to war, led troops in a war or not even during peace time. I am telling you voters all along that Sen. Clinton is your choice so that you will never have to worry about that 3 a.m. phone call! Hillary 08 or nothing!

    March 2, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. Shannon

    Wesley Clark should be Barack Obama's running mate. It would be the perfect ticket.

    March 2, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Deborah

    Go home Hillary we do not want you.

    OBAMA '08

    March 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  8. dan

    So, being the first lady of a draft-dodging President is considered experience for being commander in chief??

    March 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  9. Grif

    Women are people too!

    March 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  10. S Williams

    Great just what we need.
    Well she will be fighting from Day One.

    Because neither the republicans, Obama supporters, Nadar supporters nor much of anyone else will be on her side.

    She agreed with Bush on the Iraq.
    She agreed with Bush on Iran.
    She agrees with Bush not talking to foreign leaders.

    She is Bush-lite.

    March 2, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. matt hardeman

    An arrogant, self-proclaimed messiah does not get my vote. A man who equates himself with MLK and Kennedy does not get my vote. A celebrity-craze does not get my vote.

    This is not american idol.

    March 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Ted in Chicago

    General Clark = those are the best sentences he has said since he bungled his own chance to run for President

    His is a voice to listen to -

    March 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. david

    WOW. Gen. Wesley Clark.

    You just have to feel good and safe about picking Hillary over Obama.

    March 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. Teresa C

    Very true!!! My son is a soldier Sgt with the U.S Army doing his 2nd tour in Iraq... Many of women , mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts. you name it have fought hard beside him, So why is so darn hard to accept a Woman for President? Hillary is the one for "The Job"!

    As a matter of fact it really worries me to think that Obama is untouchable and cannot be spoken about by other candidates??? He is no God, and deffinitly no prophet, but hey Open your eyes america because he is being treated like one.

    March 2, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. Joe in Wayland, NY

    I don't get it. We (Democrats) have fought against politicians trying to manipulate American voters by appealing to their fear of terrorism....Hillary Clinton is taking a "page right out of Karl Rove's playbook" and for one – I'm mad as hell!

    As Bill Clinton himself once said (paraphrased), when there are two candidates and one is preaching fear and one is preaching hope: choose the one with hope!

    Yes, Bill – I will!

    March 2, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  16. RTH, Bellingham, WA

    I really, really respect Gen. Clark. I would have loved to see him as the VP on an Obama ticket. I don't agree with his choice of candidates, obviously, but I think the man deserves a healthy dose of respect from the general public.

    March 2, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. John

    I'm not sure what I think about anyone who talks about dropping bombs and uses the word "Wonderful" in the same sentence. I hope that Vietnam veterans at least react to that one. And how wonderful was it when the government bombed Cambodia for a year without telling the people of the US or even Congress? WONDERFUL.

    Bombs are the scourge of modern warfare. There is nothing wonderful about dropping bombs, male or female.

    March 2, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  18. James

    Hillary will protect you...LOL Her only foreign policy experience was her politically calculated vote for the Iraq war. Bad judgment !

    March 2, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. Zeitgeist

    Yes, women are great fighters, so don't count Hillary out. She may have lost a couple of battles but she is the one that can win the Election war. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the next President of the United States of America. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON!!!

    March 2, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Florida democrat

    Hillary or Mccain!!

    Fight to the bitter end baby, its Barack who will destroy this party. Easily 30% of democrats for Hillary I talk to will go to Mccain

    As a 25 year old I will do the same. I dont want admanidijad to claim he brought the US to its knees when Obama goes to meet him for no reason

    I dont want to fail in getting universal health care

    I dont want another president who HAS to rely on his advisors.

    I want a strong president with a plan!!!

    March 2, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. OBAMA 08

    CNN: Did I miss something? Is Obama still in the race?? Nothing like either caving into Clinton pressure and/or trying to prolong the race to keep ratings up.

    March 2, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  22. Byron in CA

    Finally heard something new from obama last nite, though did just leave me with more questions. He said he would listen even when we don't agree and went on to say "oh yes there will be times we don't agree" to his supporters-who my surprise just applauded and cheered like this was something they should be happy about. Of course I can't help but ask,-keeping in mind it's just before the texas and ohio primaries that he says this--please explain more mr obama, what those things might be that his supporters won't agree with him on are? I think this is a ratioanl question, and goes back to what I've said before about his statements having only so much infomation before he starts up with his catch phrases and empty words.

    March 2, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  23. Mark

    Only the American people will decide; no pressure from retired generals. We are not a banana republic, thanks God.

    March 2, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  24. Independent Voter in Texas

    BUT CAN SHE WIN? I'm thinking NOT since all the polls show Obama beating McCain...NOT HILLARY.

    March 2, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. Veronica in CA

    Clinton/Clark in 08! :)

    March 2, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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