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. Justin

    How is this a bad thing that he needs access to all of the intelligence before he makes a full decision? Just because Hillary doesn't read information before she makes a decision (Iraq war vote) doesn't mean she should denounce those who will consider all the information.

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. carolyn

    Here we go again. Double speak and smear. The Democratic Party is fracturing while McCain is looking better and better even to Independents and moderate Democrats. I find myself, a lifelong Democrat, considering McCain. I could not vote for any ticket with Hillary Clinton's name on it. Hopefully, there are enough of us who really are tired of the politics of the past and who are paying attention to what is going on in this campaign to bring about a positive result, meaning Obama as our next president.

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

    CNN, Why won't you report on the fact that the Canadian Government released a statement that it was Hillary Clinton's campaign that contacted their government about NAFTA. The Canadian government stated that following:

    to tell them not to worry because the Nafta threats were mostly political posturing. Brodie, the Canadian official, released a statement that "someone from Ms Clinton's campaign had even contacted Canadian diplomats to tell them not to worry because the Nafta threats were mostly political posturing."

    Also, why have you not pointed out that Hillary's own campaign communications chair has slandered Obama calling him Ken Starr. Why has Howard Wolfson not been asked to resign.

    Why have you not reported that of all the co-defendents in the Rezko trial, three out of the five are connected to Hillary Clinton via large donations (in fact larger than the donations given to Obama). Of course, Hillary's campaign has not returned this money or donated it to charity as Senator Obama has.

    The double standard being applied to Hillary Clinton does not benefit Americans.

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Richard

    Big deal – they both intend to formalize their strategies once they enter office. I'd hope so. Is this the best she can do? Deliberate distortions are lies.

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Allen

    Does anyone believe anything that comes out of this persons mouth?
    The woman who cried wolf.... Wonder If Ohio believes her?

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Brian

    Look at that wild look in her eye. When Hillary attacks.

    If this monster is the person America wants as their next president, then we don't deserve hope or change.

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Lets Get Ready for Change!

    Is Hillary serious? America will be ruined if she is President. It is clear that you have to consult the people on the ground to know what is going on before you react. This is bananas!!!!!!!!!!!
    How can you criticize Obama and your plan calls for the same thing!!!!

    March 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Maisie2008

    This is just noise. Everybody knows that he is committed to getting the troops out–he's the one who voted against the war in the first place. Clinton was the one jumping in with both feet.

    No matter who wins, the next president will have to make a judment about how fast and where to move troops in consultation with other countries to maximize the safety and security of Iraq. Clinton would be no different.

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Richard Q. Effler

    Hillary is indeed a monster. An inconsistent, hotheaded sociopath with uneducated followers. Only she could convince so many idiots that she is "experienced." There is no question about it, the dems have been duped by the clintons again. So sad, but so deserved.

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Jim in CT

    Looks like a complete Obama campaign meltdown. At least his advisers are finally shedding some light on what he really thinks and believes.
    Now I'm just waiting for one of his advisers to admit to us that Senator Obama was never really serious about being President, but since he's slightly ahead right now he figured he might as well keep going!

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Sophia

    The queen of spin at it again. How sad for America that this is who you would consider worthy of the Presidency. I never understood what people meant when they described her as polarizing. But now I do and she has made it abudantly clear, she will stoop to anything to win. Americans have such bad memories...why don't you Hillary supporters do some research on the Clintons PLEASE. Twenty years of Bush and Clinton dirty politics is more than enough.

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Franky

    "It was over-the-top; however, the erratic mixing of misty declarations of being honored to run with Senator Obama with bellowing "Shame on you" and praising McCain to undermine Obama (and Democratic chances in November) is disturbing."

    I couldn't agree more with that statement..........

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Sam

    How can the Clinton campaign hunt down Obama advisor conversations, yet not release documents? What about the Clinton 2006 taxes? The blocking of pardon documents? Be transparent Hillary and stop trying to distract the voters from what matters most in a President. The Clintons can not be trusted.

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. listen!

    hey obama lovers, where's your little hero with something to say about the bomb blast in nyc?

    talking about change doesn't mean that it will be a change for the better, wake up and realize before it's too late for all of us!

    halle berry says she'll follow him anywhere, well she sure has good judgment: first husband beat her second one cheated on her. don't be a fool like berry and get sweet talked by someone who has no proven track record of effecting anything worthwhile.

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. Gary Gagne

    Yeah, but Hillary is a monster (small M).

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Eric

    So let me get this straight:

    Clinton calls for Obama's adviser to step down for calling her a Monster for deceiving Ohio voters, then Clinton immediately turns around and claims Obama is attempting to deceive voters... Maybe Clinton should be the one to step down.

    Can you hold any more of a double standard?!

    March 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Justin

    Though I think the line is a bit misconstrued, it is an indication of Obama's inexperience at an executive level that he is not able to stay on top of his staff. That or he is indeed all talk.

    I'm sure his blind following will turn a blind eye to this as well. The man is an elegant speaker, but that is not a basis for a good president. I have yet to meet an Obama follower who can actually discuss his policies.

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Hussein

    Oh here we go, Clintonites. Now, before you post your accusations, please read that post again, and carefully. Obama is still committed to beginning an immediate troop withdrawal.

    And, for the RECORD, Clinton has NOT been consistent on her position to begin a withdrawal within 60 days. I can't believe CNN would print that lie without a qualification!

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Al

    Hillary needs to shut up!!!!!
    Doesnt she ever get sick of going negative!!!!
    She is the most repulsive person I have ever seen
    Senator Obama is so much above her in character its like night and day!!
    Focus on Obama for a change, at least he is a positive candidate!
    Is there anything else she can rant about!!
    its really getting monotonous!
    go Obama 08

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. taya bever

    If the shoe fits ! Good for her !

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

    Its true, commitment to a plan now makes it harder to change your plan if something outside of your control changes because you look like a liar later on.

    I'm glad Hillary says she wants to start withdrawing troops within 60 days if she becomes president, but if something changes between then and now, and she can't do it, she's going to look like a liar.

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Independent


    How is this different from what Obama has said all along? If there is any American out there who don't think the troop withdrawal plans should be based on what is happening on the ground at any given moment, they should do us a favor and not vote.


    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Moodi

    Wow! How MONSTER she is in your photo. 🙂

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. Cornel

    I sure hope Obama uses this opportunity to pounce on Clinton's comments. Why would you commit to firm date if you don't have all of the information available to you. Obama's advisor was too honest for her own good. There is know way any one will pull out of Iraq if all the evidence points to a possible WWIII. Let's play out the scenario three years from now if we pull out without securing that country.

    1. Al queda throw's fuel on the secretarian violence flame.
    2. All out civil war. Shiite vs. Sunni
    3. Iran feels its in there interest to helps the shiites either covertly or explicitly.
    4. Saudi Arabia feels it in there interest to help the sunni's
    5. Kurds in northern iraq, get sick of the all the blood shed and defect to turkey.
    6. In the mist of all this chaos, someone launches missiles over to our allies in either kuwait and/or Israel.
    7. Gas prices continue to skyrocket.
    8. Enter the US, China, and Russia to protect there interest.

    To make a promise without having all the information is political suicide and wrong. But then again, not everyone is well informed and falls for everything.

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Clinton News Network

    CNN will not post anything negative about Hillary Clinton, I wonder why??? Seems you guys have something invested. I'm switching over to Fox or MSNBC, at least their news reporting is not biased!

    March 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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