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. Cindy

    oops, didn't read the end of the article.

    She's grandstanding again. Even Pelosi didn't commit Democrats to a date, when she disputed McCain's 100 year plan.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Rick

    In an effort to calm the vitrolic hatred that is spreading throughout the comments on the vatrious ticker items, let's be clear of the rules in advance.

    1. It is OK for Hillary to pounce on anything Obama says or does. It is OK for Hillary and her organization to make negative characterizations of Obama and the people who surround him. It is OK for hillary and crowd to call Obama names. It is OK for Hillary to try to change the rules of the game mid-stream for her own personal game. It is OK for Hillary to make unfounded charges and to continue to make them even after they've been denied by all involved (even the disinterested parties). It is OK for Hillary to cry foul anytime her own documented words come back to haunt her.

    2. None of the above is permissible for Obama.

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

    This is only the begining. 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 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Wayne

    Obama please respond to this Bish!! You have said repeatedly that you will remove combat troops in 16 months. Re state your position for clarity PLEASE!!!

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. CW in DC

    Over on the Washington Times newspaper online, they are reporting a $700,000 windfall Bill Clinton received in dealings with Armand Rousso who was recently convicted in some shady dealings. Check out Washington Times online.

    I'm still waiting to see something on the Peter Paul vs Clinton campaign finance fraud case in California as we speak. Unlike the Rezko trial that didn't list Obama as a witness – ALL of the Clintons (including Chelsea) are listed as witnesses.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. Tom

    Hillary accusing Obama of deceiving voters??? That iS PRICELESS! What a sanctimonious hypocrite.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. concern citizen

    How is this deceiving voters? Of course he has to consult with people and the best case scenerio is to be out in 16 months. However, it is important to be cautious because we want to secure the safety of our troops as they withdraw. If she wants to discuss deceiving voters lets discuss her views on Iraq. She told the American people she voted on the war based on the information she received. She never read the information she received specifically the Iraq report. Before she begins accusing people of deceiving voters (which Obama has not), she should look in the mirror. In addition, last Monday she stated Obama deceived the voters by talking to Canada about NAFTA. It turns out she was the one who had the conversation with Canada not Obama. It is you Hillary deceiving the voters again. SHAME ON YOU.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Jeff Radun

    Obama and his staff keep on stepping in it.

    Hillary has said she would start to withdraw troops within 60 days.
    She has consitantly said she would discuss all the option with the military before proceeding. She has also said there are many things to consider like Iraq's who have helped Americans, and may other problems.
    Obama has said he would be out within 16 months that is it no middle ground. Now his adviser who has to resign for calling Hillary a monster now it comes out Obama is also telling other countries he might not be out within 16 months. Politics as ussual.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  9. The Great One

    Well it seems like a pretty sensible statement from the former advisor…I mean c’mon people WHOEVER wins has to speak with the joint chiefs and top aids on the fields in Iraq to find the best possible plans for withdrawal. In January 2009 Iraq could be in total ciaos and a possible withdrawal could possible be out of the question. Or these terrorist could be so powerful by then that we have no choice but to stand and fight. Circumstances change all the type which means a plan will have to adjust to those changes….I really wish the Clinton campaign would stop trying to play the American population like freaking fools. Twisting sensible and responsible statements into a sinister and supposedly naive statement….but then again…I was the American population would stop FALLING for the tactics as well .lol…does anyone agree with “The Great One”?

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

    Right on the target. Mr. Obama is deceiving voters from the very beginning.

    March 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Rich in Seattle

    So she's saying that no matter what changes occur from now until she is elected president, she won't take any new information into consideration when making plans on the fate of our troops?

    That is pretty monstrous to be so careless and stubborn with something so important. Sounds like something Bush would do.

    I am dubbing her campaign, the CLINTON CIRCUS.

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

    Hillary is a monster and will bring this country to the brink of destruction. She is attacking like a rabid dog and the points she keeps attacking on are things that are part of logic on Obama's behalf.

    Of course you have to look at what's going on in January of 09 to make a valid decision on the best way to exit the war.

    If she gets the nomination I'll personally sit out and watch as America goes down the road of eventual destruction. But I'll be watching from Canada!

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Carol

    Obama is about "CHANGE"??? Talking out of both sides of your mounth is not new sonny.....You really are green. One term Sen. in over his head...Seems your getting your little hand caught in the cookie jar

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. You Go Girl!

    Politics as Usual from the Obama Camp.
    This man is a Phony!

    Keep Drinking the Kool-Aid People!

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Larry from LA

    As a Obama supporter, Hillary is making McCain look very good to me. If she wins the nomination I will do everything I can to get other Obama supporters to campaign and vote for McCain. Powers was right she is a MONSTER and total phoney.

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. pat for obama

    hillary is trully a monster and aim so glad someone said something about it. I dont feel sorry for her at all. She is a bully ad a monster.

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. Obama 08

    Why does CNN continue to report innuendo as news instead of actually investigate whether it is true or not. The Canadian government had clearly stated the NAFTA comment was not made, and in fact could have been started by Clinton's camp.

    The stance on Iraq is exactly what Clinton has get her "advisors" together and map out the best case scenerio to get American troops out safely.

    In fact Obama stated clearly during the last debate that he wasn't to get them out as safely, quickly and carefully.

    This woman makes me ill!

    March 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |

    More BS coming from Clinton. I guess Canada denying the susbstance of the memo she keeps referring too is not valid enough.

    And its okay for her to meet with high-level military and intelligence advisors but not okay for Obama to do.



    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. Rob

    At least Obama is willing to evaluate the situation when the time comes.. Clinton unilaterally deciding to withdraw troops within 60 days regardless of the situation sounds more like George Bush, who refuses to adjust to changing circumstances.

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Jane, College Park, MD

    Here we go again.

    Common sense seems to have deserted Sen Clinton.
    You could have a well laid out plan today, and find that events have changed next year, would you not change your plans?.

    It is such a shame that Sen Clinton can successfully distort things and relay to people who simply fail to read and conduct their own research, exactly what she wants them to think.

    Again, Sen. Clinton takes us all for idiots.

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Lee

    Typical Clinton News Network reporting...

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Renee

    OMG this is ridiculous wheter its 16 months or 20 months no one can predict to the minute. They can only set a timeline and his timeline is 16 months. as for NAFTA!
    just go to

    Clintons "Leak"

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. Peter

    There is no level she will not stoop to, no lie she will not tell, no arm she will not twist if it means she gets what she wants. I'm sick of her. She's not only lost my vote in the primary, but in the general election as well.

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Michael

    Why isnt anyone talking about how the Clinton campaign was the one who gave Canada the wink on NAFTA.

    March 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. Dr. Vincent Petrosino

    Obama's campaign has rightfully dismissed the services of this adviser. Power failed to realise that Obama is running for the presidency in the United States and that her comments to a British tabloid would not translate well here. Clinton has behaved monstrously and her recent wins in Ohio and Texas were due to the Swift-Boating tactics of her supporters. If Obama can come under fire for wearing Somali ceremonial dress, not wearing a flag pin and where he puts his hand during the pledge, you can imagine the crap Power's comments would generate! Clinton caters to old selfish people who still want to make a mess of this world regardless of the young and energetic people whom Obama electrifies.

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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