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. CClaudia

    Considering she has been endorsed by over 30 admirals, generals and flag officers and they all agree she is the only one who will end the war and would make the BEST commander in chief, I agree with Hillary. I will take the words of certified war heroes over the words of Obama fanatics any day of the week.

    Obama's only claim to fame, "I didn't vote for the war" (REPEAT AD NAUSEUM). Give me a break.

    March 17, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Al, Sacramento Ca

    Lets not forget Obama has voted for the funding the last two times, that is blatant contradiction.

    March 17, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. NIC

    All these Clinton Haters on here. Spin, spin, spin, all the Haters do is inject crude, rude, inappropriate personal attacks. Talk issues people, frankly many people are sick and tired of your ridiculous comments that are unthoughtful and meaningless.

    March 17, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. Debra

    McCain really scares me. We can not have another Republican president in office aain or we wil be in even worse shape. Besides that I think that McCain has anger issues. Also his age bothers me alot. I think he is too old to be running.

    March 17, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Franky

    What War??? The one our nation is in??? I don't know but when someone says they could end a war, I think is a little easier said than done. Let alone problems have arise and questions have been made about this war. I don't know, this issue is a bit different.....

    March 17, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. Christian

    THE FIRST THING PEOPLE NEED TO REALIZE IS: OBAMA WAS NOT THERE TO VOTE FOR THE WAR!!!! IF HE WAS HE WOULD'VE VOTED PRESENT LIKE HE TENDS TO DO A LOT!!!!! Now that we got that out of the way, Obama is a liar!! He is not trustworthy at all. He tells the American people one thing but then his advisors say another!!!

    Hillary 08!!!

    March 17, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Deb

    People ought to spend some time remembering how disliked Hillary was as a first lady. They ought to remember the complete disaster her health care initiative was. Nobody liked her. Nobody liked working with her. Wake up America!

    March 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Hillary the Hypocrite

    Didn't she VOTE for the Bush War?

    March 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. An Ohio Voter

    Barack, you are handing the Republicans the White House on a silver platter!!!!!!!!

    Hillary '08

    March 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Michael

    Hillary supporters, please join us in boycotting msnbc tv & .com. It's bad enough the way they have treated her and promoted Obama (they are being referred to as the Obama network), but now you can register to vote for him on their home page! Enough is enough! Thanks

    March 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Alexandra

    Shame on you Hillary!!!

    March 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. melchg

    I love how hillary says she has "solutions" she has the same thing all 3 pres candidates have "speeches"...What she is doing is no different from Obama or from McCain....All are making speeches full of promises....they speak to hope for the best outcomes on their parts but in truth when any of them get into the White House many of those promises won't be kept, often its out of their hands.

    March 17, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Objective

    Obama may not approve his minister's lessons, but he has attended a church for 20 years. By now he must know his own pastor's views on this country, whites, etc. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." Mr. Wright speaks his convictions. These were not politically inconvenient for Mr. Obama while he attended the church. The fact that there never was a falling out between the two of them tells us a lot about Mr. Obama. Even now he refers to Mr. Wright as like an uncle.

    The politics of hatred based on race should not triumph in this country, whoever practices them. It is not Mr. Obama's fault what Mr. Wright says. But if Mr. Obama is such a poor judge of character that he attends his church for 20 years without figuring out what this guy believes, it makes me question his judgement.

    March 17, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Jo

    Clinton says that she will convene her military advisors on day 1 to develope a plan to start moving troops out in 60 days. Obama says he will bring them out within the year. Who has the better conceived plan. This is another example where Obama is speaking in grand generalities and Clinton is prepared to do the work.

    Being President of the United States is more than inspiring action, it is getting things done and Obama is ill prepared to turn his inspiration into action. If he wants to end the war then tell us exactly how he is going to do that. He says all the right things but there is such a lack of substance or planning. Any plan he does come up with, he got from Clinton.

    Senator Clinton will be the best to end this war because she knows the players and the military and when she tells the politicians in Iraq to get their act together, they will know that she is not kidding or inspiring or hoping for a change. She is demanding it and will back up that demand with definitive action.

    March 17, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Albo


    March 17, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Grif

    The right words will always matter....

    Just ask John Adams....................1776AD

    March 17, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. AMP

    Obamabots are running scared AND your candidate is in full scale damage control! NO, you can't have it both ways! How can this guy be an "outsider" when he is in the senate? His pastor, hmm.........This guys is done, the RNC has destroyed the democratic party from within and through the media, but yet the Clinton's get the blame for it! I would think anyone could beat McCain in the fall after being endorsed by GWB, but leave it to the democrats to mess this one up! Sad, really!

    March 17, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Kim

    you pitifull small minded people, that's why we are in the situation that we are in now, hateful, negative people.

    March 17, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Shane

    Obama really scares me now. he was not in the senate so he could not vote present for the war. remember he wants to change washington, just like spitzer wanted to get corruption out of albany. if he is the nominee, I am moving out of the US.

    March 17, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  20. Garrett

    Hillary is right.
    Obama is always wrong and Hill is only wrong sometimes.

    Wake up people, do you really want a talker running the cvountry or do you want someone who makes things happen, no matter how minute they are.

    Practically everyone in America wanted this war in 2001, just because Obama is a radical and had a brief moment of decent foresight doesn't make him a good president.

    Hillary '08

    March 17, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. Mike

    Hillary complains about Obama "just making flowery words, but no solutions." Isn't what she gave a speech? Hey, WAKE UP – this isn't a solution, either, it's JUST A SPEECH!

    Careful, Hillary, there's 4 fingers pointing back at you....

    March 17, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. David

    put no faith in Hillary doing such a thing. this globalist will continue this war for sure. she, too, is bought and paid for by the military-industrial complex and will march to their orders.

    March 17, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    to An Ohio Voter..... how can Obama be handing the White House to the Republicans when he's winning the nomination process? Great logic there..... It's Hillary the LOSER who will not give up and GO AWAY.

    OBAMA '08

    March 17, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. can't trust Obama

    Well, let's look at it this way. If Obama doesn't have a clue on what's going on in his own back yard (his church), then how will he know what's going on in the big, bad world around him?

    March 17, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Maria

    Hillary will say anything to get nominated and then blame everyone except herself when she fails to deliver. Obama is the only candidate who can honestly put his money where his mouth is when it comes to the war on Iraq.

    March 17, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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