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. Sara

    Just yet another reason not to vote for a Clinton again. Obama 08'

    March 17, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. Dian

    Hillary supporters are amazing ...they actually believe everything she says....even when you have it in writing that she said something different last week?! This woman will say or do anything to get elected. She's conniving.... and won't get my vote ever!!!!

    March 17, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Arthur-Texas

    Hillary was magnificant in her speech today.She really looked presidential.Her deep concern about out troops really came out.Thats why over 30 retired admirals and general are supporting her for commander in chief.
    By contrast,look at what the other candidate is doing today.
    There is a real choice we democrats will have to make between the candidates.Look at what happened today and think who is best prepared to face John Mccain in november.

    March 17, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Kitty

    Hillary says she can end the war????? Those of us who live in a military community and send loved ones over there day after day, do not believe she can even negotiate. Does she not realize that the people with which she would have to deal look on women as property? Hillary is the last thing we need as President, especially now.

    March 17, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Sara

    It never ceases to amaze me what lies come out of this womans mouth. OBAMA 08'

    March 17, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. martin

    Hillary Clinton helped Bush get us into this war, didn't have the courage to stand up to him, and now she is trying to pretend she is tough and will end the war in Iraq. I don't believe her. I don't believe any politician's rhetoric but you start from a disadvantage when you were on the wrong side of the issue in the first place.

    March 17, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Linlo

    This is ridiculous. Are her supporters really listening to the things that come out of this woman's mouth?

    March 17, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Grandma

    Yes Hillary is a Hypocrite! Just look back to when Bill was in office. She couldn't keep her husband in line what makes people think she can run America.

    March 17, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |

    Hillary would be 200 delegates behind if not for the republicans turning out in huge numbers to vote for her. That should tell you that they prefer to meet her as the nominee so that they can confront the Clintons with the dirt the've been saving since Bill left office. Face it Clintonians, you're gonna lose. Do the delegate count math. If she releases those tax return before the Michigan and Florida do-over's, you can kiss your candidate good bye. She's already due in court in California. She's gonna be inmate #08 instead of the 08 Democratic nominee runnerup.

    March 17, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Randy

    The only thing Hillary is going to accomplish if she gets the nomination is absolutely NOTHING. This woman knows nothing about bringing people together. My God, the Republicans hate her and Bill.

    March 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. OKMom4Obama

    Started it, so who best to end it? Give me a break – she should listen to herself. How does she sleep at night knowhing almost 4,000 Americans have died in this senseless war. What nerve.

    March 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Sue, Louisiana

    Hillary has words she backs up with plans. Obama has words, be backs up with more words, and just words, and more words, with just words. And oh yeah lies, too..."I never attended any of those sermons." Puhlease!

    March 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Diane

    Democrats are already kissing the November election good-by because too many of you listen to Sean Hannity and jumped on the Obama bandwagon. Now live with it.

    March 17, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Marie

    Hillary Clinton is the only qualified candidate running for office. She is Americas only hope. We are in bad shape, people. We don't have time for Barrack to learn the job!

    March 17, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. gbolee

    Very funny

    March 17, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Life28SBK

    At this point I really dont care who is president... l just want our troops home!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Becky Montgomery

    Let Hillary get nominated and see what all the Republicans pull out on her. You will wish the worst you had to worry about was what a candidate's pastor said. It will be about what the candidate and her husband have done and are continuing to do. Then we will be under a Republican, extension of Bush administration, and will have more war, a terrible economy, and more lies.

    What is worse?

    March 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Tanya K

    We a country that is supposed to stand together we should be proud of ourselves at all times. We are fighting a war in the middle east not a civil one. Why is the race card being played so much, by supposed proud Americans? Oh, thats right they are now finally proud of there country. If we are going to excel in this world, why don't we stop fighting amongst ourselves.

    March 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Jim Kansas

    Vote Obama, put McCain in the White House

    March 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Dan

    Madam President fix this country before it's too late

    March 17, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Venus

    Hillary can bring our troops home. The troops want to come home lets do something for them vote for a president who can bring them home. Lets save the men and women who are sacrificing there lives for us. Hillary should be our president and the one to end-er of the war in Iraq.

    March 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Will-South Dakota

    She voted for America to go to war, now she's the only one who can end it? How. She flipflops on this issue,When is she going to apologize for voting for this, not standing up to the Bush/Cheney evidience or questioning it? She's so out of touch.

    March 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Mike Sk

    That's right Christian Obama was not there for the vote Hillary was. And did she make the right decision at that time???? Did she say she made a mistake about her vote? Well it seems like with Hillary it's more of the same arrogance and more of the same is not what the American public want especially in these hard economic times. She has no record to run on and being first lady does not give you commander and chief qualities

    March 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. Jan

    I can't find out if Obama ever visited Iraq or Afganistan. If not, why not and why isn't Hillary bringing that up? I know she has been both places and that is why I feel she is more qualified to be President.

    March 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Alonzo Demetrius, FL, USA

    Sure, Hillary and Barack can "end the war". Any president could. But the question is how to end the war "with honor" and in the best interests of our country. Walking out of the Middle East is not the solution. We need to maintain our presence there as long as enemies of the West are mis-behaving. Only McCain has promised this.

    Don't fall for political double-speak. Those two democrats just don't know which side is up.

    March 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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