March 17th, 2008
12:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton says she is the only candidate who can end the war

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Hillary Clinton said in a speech Monday as president she would exercise the leadership needed to end the war in Iraq, something her rivals for the White House would not be able to accomplish.

“Senator Obama holds up his original opposition to the war on the campaign trail, but he didn't start working aggressively to end the war until he started running for president. So when he had a chance to act on his speech, he chose silence instead,” Clinton told an audience at George Washington University. “President Bush is determined to continue his failed policy in Iraq until he leaves office. And Senator McCain will gladly accept the torch and stay the course, keeping troops in Iraq for up to 100 years if necessary.”

Obama gave a speech in 2002 opposing the war in Iraq, an address he references often in his campaign stump speech. Clinton cited Obama’s repeated promise to start bringing “combat troops out in 16 months,” pointing to recent BBC interview by now-former Obama policy advisor Samantha Power in which Power said Obama “will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.”

The Clinton campaign has highlighted those comments because of what they say is a contradiction between Obama's thetoric and action on Iraq.

“Senator Obama has said often that words matter. I strongly agree,” Clinton said. “But giving speeches alone won’t end the war and making campaign promises you might not keep certainly won’t end it. In the end the true test is not the speeches a president delivers, it’s whether the president delivers on the speeches.”At a campaign rally in Monaca, Pennsylvania Obama disagreed with Clinton’s assessment.

“I opposed this war in 2002, I opposed it in 2003, 4, 5, 6 and 7. I have been consistent in saying that we have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I have been clear this has been a strategic error – unlike Senator Clinton, who voted for this war and has never taken responsibility for that vote,” Obama said.Clinton also said both Bush and McCain want to keep the United States tied to Iraq’s “civil war, a war we cannot win. That, in a nutshell, is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy. Don’t learn from our mistakes, repeat them…We can have hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground for 100 years, but that will not change the fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.”

A McCain campaign spokeswoman said Clinton is trying to “score political points by mischaracterizing” Senator McCain’s statement about keeping troops in Iraq for one hundred years, and said the Arizona senator was talking about a post-war “military presence in Iraq should the Iraqi and U.S. governments determine it to be in their mutual interest.”

McCain, who is in Iraq today on a congressional trip, told CNN's John King that Clinton "obviously does not understand nor appreciate the progress that has been made on the ground. She told General Petraeus last year when he testified that she would have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge is working.

Well, the surge is working."So I just think what that means is al Qaeda wins. They tell the world that. And we fight here again and around the Middle East. And their dedication is to follow us home. All I can say is that this will be a big issue in the election as we approach November because at least a growing number of Americans, though still frustrated and understandably so, believe that this strategy has succeeded," he added.

Clinton said she “applauded” the recent decrease in violence in Iraq but said the surge was intended to give the Iraqis breathing room to reach “political reconciliation,” something that has not happened in her assessment.In her speech, Clinton outlined a multi-step plan for ending the war, some of which she talks about frequently on the campaign trail.

In addition to starting troop withdrawal within 60 days of taking office, Clinton said as president she would urge the United Nations to act as a “neutral, honest broker” in reaching political agreements and also in helping to resettle millions of Iraqi refugees. She said she would work to remove armed private military contractors from Iraq and end black market sales of oil that goes to help the insurgency.

Clinton said troop withdrawal would “not mean retreating from fighting terrorism in Iraq” and that she would “order small, elite strike forces to engage in targeted operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

–CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Grif

    And Bash Obama.

    March 17, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |

    YES SHE WILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




    March 17, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. @americans

    yeah, Billary can end the war by voting for it. gimme a break!

    March 17, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Hillary all the way !

    Hillary is by war the most qualified to be Commander in Chief.

    I believe that she will end the war in Iraq and be prompt about doing so.

    March 17, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. TheLeftNut

    Yes. Hillary will go to Iraq and sing Coumbaya. Everyone will keel over in pain and submit to whatever she says.

    March 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Dennis

    I can't resist: Hillary now says words matter, but they didn't about a month ago.

    I can't see how Clinton has any special abilities beyond Obama's to end the war in Iraq. Obama has said that we need to be careful in withdrawing. He'll need to consult with the generals on how to make an orderly withdrawal. Of course, what Hillary isn't saying is that she'll do the exact same thing. Neither one of them will just issue an order that says, "we're getting out today, pack your things."

    Hillary is fond of saying that it is important to draw distinctions, but the the distinction she is drawing here is pointless.

    March 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Jessica, MI

    The audacity of this woman is breathtaking.

    Hillary: I helped get us into this horribly misguided war! so...uh...i'm best qualified to help us get back out of it too!

    March 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. suzy



    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Sante

    Very Smart Lady!
    Obama- soft spoken manipulator!

    March 17, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Will

    by "end the war" does she mean attack iran, or just keep funneling hundreds of millions in ear marks to military industrial contractors in NYState?

    March 17, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Steph, Philadelphia

    Is this the same war that she help to start?? I don't this so, miss Clinton. To end this war we don't need either you, McCain or Bush who started it in the first place. We need Barack Obama.

    March 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Gerry

    Well, before Hillary gets a chance to do anything, she needs to release her taxes, donater lists to their charity, donater lists to the presidential library, earmarks; and cross her fingers and hope the 128 missing pages from the Garrett report are not released.

    Then she needs to tell voters how she expects to win, with Obama taking a 169 elected delegate lead over the weekend.

    With 516 delegates left, she'd need to win 427 or 83% of the remaining delegates to catch him, which is not happening.

    It's past time for the super delegates to quit fiddling while Rime burned and get on side with the Obama campaign now, or kiss the November election goodbye.

    March 17, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. maynard

    hillary is full of it, what makes her think shes the only one. talk about
    egoism. however she had one hell of a teacher. thanks to him and others we are in the mess we,re in today

    March 17, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Mike, Arkansas

    CNN are Hillary lovers.

    Well she has and will make speeches of Promises like she is right now and wont finish them. Just like all the speeches made for the Clinton era that were never done.

    End the war you voted for? Fix NAFTA that your husband put into effect. End the era of poor economically USA that you put into motion by driving all our jobs overseas? Yeah keep on yappin!

    I am tired of the Clinton mistakes then the turn around that they are the only one to fix them... fix them how? With more mistakes that is going to hurt our country?

    Keep on preaching Hillary. You dont have my ears at all. Ive heard so many things and seen nothing since before the year 2000. Ive seen your pockets fill up. Ive seen criminals released by Bill. Ive seen political favors.

    Give it up!

    March 17, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Chicagoway

    I dont see why anyone should think that Clinton would do more in the way of getting troops out than any other candidate. What has she done so far regarding the troops and war other than refusing to admit that she voted to authorize the war? People seem to forget that Obama uncovered the horrible conditions at Walter Reed hospital. Republicans are always preaching to support the troops but they didnt seem to notice that Walter Reed provided treatment that was well below average. I would rather trust someone who has a history of actually caring about the troops. Obama is more prepared to end the war because he has shown that he actually cares about the fate of our troops. How many more ridiculous statements does Hillary have left in her?

    March 17, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. emmanuel Ray

    i agreeeeeeeeeeee and I also think she is the only one who can fix the economy........after the whole Obama Pastor thing , it just tuned Obama off.........................I think Obama is a great guy maybe , but still dont know him all that well and maybe he needs to have more time to evolve

    March 17, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Alice Brian

    Obama is a liar; I agree with Senator Clinton, he won’t end the war...

    March 17, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. maya

    Obama can not keep relying on this ONE TALKING POINT that he has in his thin resume.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that he is a PACKAGED CANDIDATE who very skillfully took the easy middle ground (voting "not present" on tough issues, NEVER took a hard BOLD STANCE against Iraq war ONCE FINALLY in the US Senate when he could have made a difference IF he WAS SO STRONGLY AGAINST IT, doesn't promote strong policy agenda for AA despite having 80-90% support, doesn't proudly say his middle name and say that he wouldn't care if someone said he was muslim-even if he isn't-because there is nothing wrong with being muslim...I could go on and on...)


    March 17, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. lisa north carolina

    i am tired of hil lying – slanting the details and making for a rocky presentation of truth. HOW in God's green earth is she the ONLY president that can end the war? AND to say the one guy that said NO to the WAR, just thought of ending a war he never EVER supported since he was running for president sounds so close to retarded to me i wonder if she is wearing a helmet and sitting in the front of a short bus. no disrespect to those actually handicapped and not acting like one that is disabled on TV to get votes. whew!

    March 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Luanne

    Ms. Clinton has absolutely no credibility on this issue.

    March 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Disappointed with BOTH

    I used to support Hillary Clinton. I even voted for her when she was running for Senator. Now that she is running for president I've taken a closer look at her record and all the scandals that everyone in the media has and has not talked about. When Obama won Iowa and started leading her in delegates I began to listen to him and I started to back him because I believed in his message and sincerity. I still do, but I have my reservations. Now that this race has brought out so much ugliness between the candidates and those who support them, I no longer want to consider myself Democrat. Both of them are the typical politics that we see everyday and are disgusted with. It will probably cost the Democratic Party the nomination. I'm going to switch to independent and vote for Nader in November; at least he's always honestly fought for the little guy against corporations and the politics of Washington.

    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. henrie alabama


    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Betsy

    She IS the only candidate that can make that happen.

    You go girl!

    Hillary '08!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. charlie

    Hillary did vote for the war, he opposed it. She is junpinmg on the badwagon now that she knows that the country is against it.

    Since when is she concerned with what Samantha Powers has to say? – Samantha also called Hillary a "Monster" – I bet that is not part of her new stump speech.

    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Gilbert

    May be she can; after all she helped drive the bus into the ditch as Sen. Obama says.

    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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