March 7th, 2008
03:49 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton pounces on Obama adviser’s Iraq comments

Clinton's campaign is hammering Obama over Samantha Power's Iraq comments.

Clinton's campaign is hammering Obama over Samantha Power's Iraq comments.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton's campaign Friday seized on remarks from Barack Obama’s former adviser Samantha Power, who told a BBC program this week that Obama "will of course not rely upon some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or U.S. senator" to remove U.S. troops from Iraq.

Power resigned from the campaign on Friday after she told a Scottish newspaper that Clinton was behaving like a "monster," a comment she quickly tried to retract, according to the newspaper. The Obama campaign hastily noted that Power, a celebrated academic who joined Obama's senate office in 2005 to work on Darfur issues, was an informal adviser and not a paid staffer.

"You can't make a commitment in, whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008, about what circumstances are going be like in January 2009," Power said on Thursday's edition of the BBC show "Hardtalk," describing Obama's plan to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq in 16 months.

Power agreed with the BBC interviewer's assertion that Obama's plan was a "best case scenario." She argued that upon taking office, Obama "will rely upon an operational plan he pulls together in consultation with people that are on the ground to whom he doesn't have daily access now as a result of not being the president."

The author emphasized in the interview that Obama "will try to get us forces out as quickly and as responsibly as possible and that’s the best case estimate of what it will take."

The Clinton campaign circulated excerpts of the comments to reporters on Friday minutes after Power resigned over the "monster" comment, and Clinton herself took to the mic at a press conference in Mississippi to accuse Obama of deceiving voters.

"While Sen. Obama campaigns on his plan to end the war, his top advisers tell people abroad that he will not rely on his own plan should be become president," Clinton said. "This is the latest example of promising the American people one thing on the campaign trail and telling people in other countries another."

She also referenced the recent controversy surrounding Obama's economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who reportedly gave assurances to members of the Canadian consulate that Obama’s NAFTA criticisms were little more than campaign rhetoric. Both the Obama campaign and the Canadian government have denied the substance of that report.

Clinton said Friday that Power's Iraq comments raise "disturbing questions about what the real planning and policy positions with inside the Obama campaign happen to be."

"He has attacked me continuously for having no hard exit date," she continued. "And now we have learned that he doesn't have one. In fact, he doesn't have a plan at all according to his top foreign policy adviser."

Despite her charges against Obama, Clinton's own Iraq plan also calls for a high-level meeting with military and intelligence advisers upon entering office to evaluate the situation on the ground and strategize about how best to withdraw troops from the country.

She was asked at today's press conference if her comments about Power and Obama contradict her own plan about how to withdraw troops.

"No, I don't think so," Clinton said. "I am committed to beginning a withdrawal within 60 days. I have said that consistently."

- CNN's Peter Hamby and Mike Roselli

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iraq
soundoff (416 Responses)
  1. Loyd LaMois

    Every time Hillary does this kind of stuff, tearing down her oponent, she reminds people of all the worst of the Clinton years, and reinforces Obama's argument that the US needs a new style of politics.

    March 7, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. simple thought ?

    ah! now scrutney of mr. obama, it's about time.

    March 7, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. MP- Pennsylvania

    Power is right. Hillary don't be so stupid!!!!

    March 7, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. April in Texas

    This wont get posted but...

    Hillary is the missleading voters queen if you were to look at Peter Paul vs Clinton and Norman Hsu just to name a few. As linton said look at the resumes and ask who you would want to hire. Well just based on these two situations alone I feel Obam has a cleaner and clearer picture of what this voter wants to see in the Whitehouse. It is amazing a woman gts so upset over a childish comment and yet can slig so much mud to supply a mud factory for life.

    Pathetic if you ask me.. I say suck it up and play nice after all thats hat I teach my children to do.

    Obama '08

    March 7, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. rita adams

    I have backed Clinton since she declared she was going to run. I've let all my friends know they had better not try to put her down in front of me. But after her sarcastic celestial choir bit and now saying John Mccain is more ready to be president than Obama I find I can no longer support her and if she get the nomination I'll probaby vote or write in Nader. If John Mccain wins this election Hillary will be the one that gave it to him. I now believe the only reason she won Texas and Ohio was because the republicans crossed over as they were told to do.

    March 7, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. presque isle

    She is such a liar and a hypocrite and she will say anything to win the nomination.

    March 7, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Patrick

    There's no way of knowing what the situation will be like in Iraq in January of 2009. The idea that Clinton would rely on a plan crafted without the input of the military generals is ridiculous and the height of irresponsibility. Does Clinton really want to hammer this message? It kind of makes her look naive.

    March 7, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Lucas, Nashville TN

    But... she IS.

    A manic, schizo monster with no limit to her ability to be mean and nasty. Turning Obama blacker for an ad? COME ON!!! That's as bad as it gets, people.

    I'd rather give her an award than a resignation. Kudos to Power for calling it like it is.

    March 7, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Dave

    It seems the Truth about Obama's real intentions have been all along. Win at any cost, even if you have to lie to the American People! And "Monster" are something that creeps around in the dark. It seems the real 'Monsters" here are Obama and his Band of Juvenile Segregates. Looks like they have been "Creeping" around in the dark behind the backs of the American People with their own little agenda. Shameful Obama, that's not Change, that's just plain old Washington Politics! Did you learn that one from Kennedy?

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. chris

    I really despise this woman but she is a political genius. She understands one simple fact that the Barack camp does not. The majority is intellectually lazy. Frame an argument a certain way no matter how false and conniving and you sway people away from the substance and truth.

    Karl Rove was brilliant in his understanding of this.

    Barack, wake up before this MONSTER actually succeeds in framing you in the way that suits her. And I must say she is not too far of . . . . .

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. John Hummel

    "“You can’t make a commitment in, whatever month we’re in now, in March of 2008, about what circumstances are going be like in January 2009,”"

    Well – duh! What if in 12 months, something changes? What if there's an invasion from Turkey and Iran, and now you have a new situation? What if every member of Al Qaeda leaves Pakistan and Afghanistan and moves to Iraq? Or, if suddenly the violence stops?

    You can't say in March "I will do this in January 2009", when we're not in January 2009. You say "I intend to do this – but I reserve the right to change my mind if things change".

    Duhhhh. For Clinton to say otherwise shows she's just trying to score stupid points.

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Cindy

    Clinton herself told voters she'll withdraw troops in 60 days. Is she sticking to that?

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Victor

    It is amazing how people have been brainwashed by the empty speeches delivered by the candidate who is "just words"

    How much hatred can you deliver in a nation that believes in God? And even if you do not, you cannot put people down like that without knowing them in real life.

    Compare the resumes from both Obama and Hillary and you will learn that Clinton has in fact the best resume to run for President of America.

    Facts and no words, unity and no more hatred


    HILLARY 08

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Daniel From Texas

    Clinton said. “I am committed to beginning a withdrawal within 60 days. I have said that consistently.”

    Actually, Hillary you voted for this war which will go down as the biggest foreign policy foul up in American History.

    Hillary, you have no credibility on this issue.

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Joe, Boston

    Obama supporters cannot cry foul on this one. Clinton has a valid point to discuss these comments. This is what Clinton has been saying all along that you can't guarantee the American voter that all troops could be withdrawn without consulting with the generals and the ones on the ground. If I see one comment mocking Clinton on this issue it will just prove that Obama supporters really don't care about the issues.

    March 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. John

    Why isn't CNN covering the NAFTA story out of Canada and the involvement of the Clinton campaign? Clinton complains of how she is treated by the media and everyone buys into it. Her campaign is the one deceiving the public.

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. HH

    YOU DID NOT EVEN READ THE NIE REPORT HILLARY. How dare you complain when you also voted NO on the Byrd,Durbin and Levin amendments that would of gave us some leverage on Iraq. SHAME ON YOU HILLARY SHAME ON YOU. You hypocrite.

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Sharon

    What's the deal here? Power is right to say that Obama will need to consult with commanders on the ground about the best way to get the troops out. She didn't say that he wasn't going to withdraw the troops, just that any planning now, that didn't take into account operational data, was preliminary. Big deal. Hillary, find something better to attack him about because you are looking like a crank (even more than usual).

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. sara_m

    No Hillary, you aren't a monster....

    What a pathetic joke her campaign is.

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. michelle, TX

    I think she would eat her young just to get into the White House

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. OBAMA 08

    This woman will stop at NOTHING to get back in the whitehouse. I

    t's a shame that she's willing to completely disregard and disrespect the Obama supporters at the cost of winning the nomination. Doesn't she realize that she will turn off all of us and will untimately lose in November (God forbid if she makes it that far)?

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Frank

    This is only the beginnin. Wait till more major stuff hits the fan, clearly showing that Obama is really all talk and no action, without any real and practical plan of action, and has been simply feeding the people what they want to hear! Perhaps Senator Obama would benefit from 8 years as Vice President that could prepare him for his 8 years as President. This is really a no brainer!!!

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. christian

    This is killing me... with all the baggage and sleaze surrounding HRC why isn't Obama and/or his campaign hitting back hard...or at least RESPONDING to these attacks. Jesus. It would be so easy to make her look silly. He will probably end up losing if he doesn't start spewing venom back in her face. C'mon Barack! Quit taking a vacation from the serious business at hand!

    March 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Mike

    I have heard Clinton and Obama both speak probably upwards of about 100 times in the last 2 months, and they both have said they would withdrawal troops from Iraq in a timley manner. Now if Obama says he's going to do it he better mean hes going to do it. She has said consistently that she will meet with her national security advisor, joints cheifs of staff and others in implementing a plan that would start to withdrawal troops within 60 days. I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for but I'm certainly leaning towards Clinton it seems like they both play politics, but she at least has a leg to stand when it comes to foreign policy and fresh ideas for the economy.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. interesting


    I am going to try to be fair to you here. You need to round your camp and get to attacking Clinton on issues of national security, economy, etc..

    Not freakin tax returns, Bill Clinton from 1992 to 2000, etc...

    Your problem is you don't realize the American people are viewing you as a 'SOFTY." Get tough on issues not calling people/candidates foul names b/c your group could not win on March 4, 2008 the nomination.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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