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. Sam Meers

    While any political staff member can make a miscue, this is the kind of miscue that comes from a less experienced candidate's camp. Clinton and Obama have been very clear about their positions on Iraq. In the race for the Democratic nomination, it's not a question of policy or intention, it's a question of experience. Clinton has the edge.

    March 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Mark

    Hillary IS a monster & has definitely been "behaving" like a monster. I don't really see why anyone would resign over this.....I guess because Obama's running less of a cutthroat campaign than her.

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

    As a Hillary Delegate in Washington State I am switching my allegiance. We have our legislative district convention Saturday and I am going to go for Barack Obama and try to convince as many of my constiuents as possible. I am also a PCO in the Democratic party. Hillary you have played this game worse than BUsh or even Hitler or Stalin. Before you destroy the country I will help correct my vote and stop you here in Washington State

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Mike

    I don't think she should have resigned. May be Monster comments were a little aggressive to make in Public but regarding his Iraq pull out policy, I don't think anything was wrong with that.

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Reggie

    I am sick and tired of Hillary Clinton acting like she is holier than thou. When her campaign manager referred to Barack Obama as being like Ken Starr she refused to denounce this statement. So why is she now crying about one of Obama's campaign advisors calling her a monster? Voters are sick of the political bickering and Hillary's campaign always going on the negative. This is not what voters want to hear.

    – Reggie

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Steve

    OBama should run as an independent if he does not get the Democratic nomination. I dont think many people realize how many Republicans would vote for him. I think he could win as an independent as long as the elections are not fixed which they probably are! I have been a Republican all my life but after these 8 years I'm going independent!

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. An Obamabot

    The Clinton-not strikes again:

    No you can’t question my integrity, but I can question yours
    No you can’t tell the Canadian government to take your comments with a grain of salt, but I can
    No you can’t see my tax returns
    No you can’t see my White House work product
    No you can’t ask me questions about my “experience” (because I have no good answers)
    No you can’t make changes to our system of having lobbyists finance campaigns
    No you can’t count votes in caucuses as legitimate forms of democratic expression
    No you can’t call yourself a real state unless you’ve voted for me

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Robin Wagner from ct

    Oh Clinton being first lady don't make a reason to make her president . We know it will be Bill running things. Why is it she always make a BIG deal out of what Barack Obama might say , When she said a lot of very nasty things about him. And allowing her staff to do so as well. And most all was not true , There she goes again . Coming out smelling like a rose . (((( ROSE ))))) well last time I smelled a rose . They are sweet and beautiful. That she not sweet or beautiful .

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. think

    wow. looks like the obama campaign is starting to drop the ball. or several balls, as it were.

    March 7, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Linda R. W'bridge, VA

    Obama is not as sweet and kind as the press seem to make him out too be................

    Power's would not have made such a statement unless she heard it before from someone else.

    She should have been fired and not given the easy way out.

    Wake up America!!!!!

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Jbecks

    Because he isn't going to make empty promises to remove the troops for political gain. And I guess Hillary will keep her promise to remove forces in 16 months no matter what commanders on the ground are saying. If that's the kinda statement she wants to run on, so be it.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. AG

    Team Hillary! '08

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. ph

    Hillary Clinton is guilty of a lot of mud-slinging. She has roots that are entangled in the mire of a corrupt American political system. Our system may be the best in the world, but that does not mean that we have to ignore those who sling mud in our political contests.

    I, for one, am just sick of it. I think that I will vote for the candidate who can maintain control of his/her own mouth, as well as the mouth's of their staff members and ads, and stick to explaining his or her action plan - no matter what their political views.

    Greed and corruption may make the world go around, but that does not mean that we just have to lay down and accept it. Come on America - get mad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |

    hillary lets face it you are a monster. instead of the kitchen sink why dont you just flush your campaign down the toilet

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. Jordan, NY

    I heard a funny joke last week. It goes like this:

    Q: Can a clearly superior presidential candidate prove his worth to the American public by running a positive campaign while his opponent perpetuates falsehoods and maligns his character?

    A: No!

    Wait. Maybe it wasn't a joke. That's right, it's a tragedy.

    Good luck, Senator Obama. You have my full support.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. Florida loves HILL

    GO HILLARY !!!! knock him out once and for all.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. 08

    Samantha Power is a brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning author who uncovers the human rights atrocities for Americans' general consumption. She is a strong, powerful, intelligent and respectable woman. Hillary Clinton is surrounded by thuggish, bulldog tactic men (see: Wolfson, Penn) and menopausal women who are old enough to have attended segregated schools while Barack Obama is surrounded by women with Power's profile–young, empowered, and intelligent.

    So when the Pulitzer prize winning advocate for the exposure and mitigation of genocide among other international atrocities calls the opponent a monster who stoops to anything to win, why is she not heralded as an intelligent human being calling out the truth. And "feminists" think that it's best to vote for Hillary only because she's a woman? Jesus, she stayed with her cheating husband! She's surrounded totally by men. Some powerful woman she is. What is wrong with people examining this election? Obama's staff is full of women.

    It is maddening to hear people say that Power is a thug for saying those things–she's a brilliant writer and professor! Gah, it's insane! And they know nothing about her "why does Obama spend so much time courting other countries like Scotland?" The woman is FROM the UK.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. cindy barba

    I have to say that Hillary is a fighter A fighter for every person that has been down. She has proved over and over again what a person can do to overcome obstacles that an ordinary person would not take. She has pulled herself out of desperate situations over and over. I think that's wonderful. I read once in an article that it was her belief in God that gave her so much strength to overcome obstacles. I agree it takes a super woman to do what she has done. I believe that she will fight for every American that is down

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. Tim, Amsterdam

    She is so awful. I am constantly amazed at the stupidity of most Americans. First they put Bush in the White House (for 8 years) and now they want to put this charlatan in the White House. This country is the leaders of the free world? America lives in a constant state of fear because their politicians shove it down their throat. The rest of the world is pulling for Obama.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Roz, IL

    i'm beginning to agree with others that said this woman is bipolar.

    March 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Ohio Voter

    So is Clinton saying that she will stick to her current plan, no matter what changes occur between now and January 2009? That seems like a kind of rigidity we definitely do *NOT* want in someone answering the red phone.

    March 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Yetty

    Oh Please. I thought she said she does not deal with hypothecticals! What happens if by the time she is sworn in and there is a lot of Al Qaeda violence, what will she done then. Withraw troops from the war she voteded for. Please this lady need to take a lesson in good judgement making

    Obama 08!

    March 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. nk

    Come off it, Hillary!

    The woman has resigned. What else do you want! You are just becoming petty.

    March 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. Steve, NJ

    Give me a break, Clinton pounces on everything, especially non-issues. Guess what, Obama could have ripped up Clinton for the whole NAFTA smear that traced all the way back to her campaign, yet Obama chooses to stay quiet.

    This is getting ridiculous.

    March 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Bewitched

    What? Is nobody suppose to say anything negative about your Presidential pick CNN? If so your mods can delete it as soon as it's posted?
    By the way.... is see at the top of the page in your hot links there is no mention of Mr Obama.... Just the two republicans Names. Hillary and MCcains.... Whats up with that CNN? Again I say... You guys are a piece of work... How about being a fair sorce of public Information?....

    March 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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